Oh So Fabulous Buckwheat Chia Bread (GF and Vegan) by Allison

I’ve tried my fair share of vegan and GF bread recipes, and most of them were “no bueno” and ended right up where they belonged…..the garbage can. This recipe however is amazing, especially right out of the oven. Forget about it cooling completely before you slice into it! It’s high time to break the rules, just don’t burn your tongue in the meantime! Even your gluten-loving friends will enjoy this delicious bread. One trick…. I bake it longer than the recipe states, 15-20 minutes longer. Make it and let me know what you think!

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Buckwheat Chia Bread
slightly adapted from The Healthy Chef

Makes 1 loaf
300 g (10 1/2 oz / 1 3/4 cups) gluten-free whole raw buckwheat groats (found at DM here in Prague)
60 g (2 fl oz / 1/4 cup) whole chia seed
250 ml / 1 cup water (use half to soak chia seeds and the other half to combine in the food processor or blender)
60 ml ( 2 fl oz / ¼ cup ) olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 160 C / 320 F. (fan forced oven).

Soak buckwheat in plenty of cold water for 2 hours until softened.

Soak chia seed in 1/2 cup cold water until gel like – this takes about 30 minutes.

Drain the buckwheat and rinse through a fine sieve. Make sure all the water is fully drained.

Place the buckwheat into a food processor.

Add chia gel, 1/2 cup of water, olive oil, bicarb soda, sea salt and lemon juice.

Mix in a food processor for 3 minutes. The bread mix should resemble a batter consistency with some whole buckwheat still left in the mix.

Spoon into a loaf tin lined with baking paper on all sides and the base.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes until firm to touch and bounces back when pressed with your fingers. I bake it for 1.5 hours if I use one large loaf pan.

Remove from the oven and cool for approx. 30 minutes. Remove from the tin or loaf pan and cool completely on a rack or board. The bread should be slightly moist in the middle and crisp on the outside.

Cool completely before eating. Don’t do this….try it while it is hot!

Serve delicate slices only when cold with a serrated knife. Nah….you don’t need to follow this advice!

Store wrapped in the fridge for up to 1 week. (This bread can be frozen for up to 3 months)

Delicious lightly toasted in a cast-iron pan.
Serves 12

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Addicted to Green by L

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During our summer road trip from Prague to Valencia, we had a little pit stop at our dear friend’s home in Saarbrucken. A’s home is absolutely cozy and stylish. Her hosting skills are beyond gracious and our tummies are always well nourished.

One morning at breakfast, I noticed that she was drinking out of a tall glass filled with a thick dark green liquid. Not exactly the most appealing vision for your first meal of the day. Of course I was curious, so I had to ask “What is THAT?”

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“My spinach smoothie,” she quickly replied, “Want some, there’s some left in the blender.”

As mentioned, I was curious. So I poured what was leftover into a smaller glass and gulped it down. Surprisingly, it didn’t taste as bad as I thought it looked. It was actually the opposite. It was deliciously refreshing.

Since that day, I can’t start my mornings without a spinach smoothie. I’m absolutely addicted.

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Spinach Green Smoothie (So easy to prepare too!)

1 cup of fresh spinach leaves

1 banana

1/2 cup of berries or whatever other fruit you have in stock

1/2 cup of your choice of liquid: water, soy milk, kefir, rice milk, milk, coconut water or juice

Optional: spoonful of chia or flax seeds

Place all the ingredients into a blender.

Blend and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Bake by Allison

There are so many beautiful cafes in Prague to enjoy breakfast in while you sit, savor and soak in your surroundings with friends or family. But sometimes a homemade breakfast in the comfort of your own home is what you’d like to offer your newly arrived guests from overseas after a long journey. Aromas of steaming hot double-shot coffee brewing in the french press and a pot of black or green tea steeping in a beautiful Polish pottery teapot await for thirsty guests.  The egg bake is cooking away in the oven while we enjoy greek yogurt with homemade granola and fresh fruits of the season, apricots, cherries and strawberries. One word, delicious.

 

There’s nothing like farmer’s market eggs or homegrown eggs in your own backyard. They taste better, they are fresher and it feels good to support local farmers at the same time. I try to only buy my eggs from the farmer’s market and especially for this recipe.

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Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Bake by Allison

Ingredients

Fresh mushrooms (1 large container or approximately two 1/2 to three cups of sliced mushrooms)

200 grams of fresh spinach

2 Tbsp. butter

2-3 cloves garlic

2 small onions

fresh thyme springs

12 eggs

2 cups grated cheese (can use cheddar or gouda or a smaller amount of parmesan)

1/2 cup of milk or cream

1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 185 degrees Celsius.

First melt the butter in a large frying pan/wok, then add the chopped onion and cook on low until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add garlic to the pan after cooking onions for 10 minutes and stir frequently to prevent from burning. Turn up the heat to medium and add mushrooms, thyme leaves and salt. Cook until the moisture in the bottom of the pan has cooked off, about 10 minutes or so. Then add fresh spinach in 2 handfuls at a time until it wilts and cooks down, continue to turn and stir. Remove from heat and in a large bowl crack 12 eggs and add in the milk and grated cheese. Beat mixture with a whisk until blended, be careful not to over beat. Add in the mushroom, onion and spinach mixture and stir gently. Pour into a large 9″ x 13″ pan and bake uncovered for the first 25 minutes, check frequently to see if the top is getting brown and cover with foil when you’ve reached the desired color on the top of the egg bake. Total baking time should be around 40-45 minutes depending on your oven. Serve warm and enjoy!

Gluten-free Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins by Allison

This muffin recipe is a keeper, let me tell ya! I remember tasting these muffins at dear friend’s home when I was in Elementary school way back when. This recipe has withstood the test of time. One of my Mom’s best friends, CW, used to make these for camping trips, snacks after her kids (my dear friends then and now too) and I got out of the pool, post softball games and for breakfast. I loved them then and I loved them now (gf of course) and they have that same taste I can remember from way back when. I needed to make some food for some friends of mine here in Prague who just had a baby and these muffins popped into mind! I whipped up a batch and placed them into two bags, one for the freezer and one for them to eat right away. These are a yummy, anytime kind-of-a-treat!

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GF Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins
 slightly adapted from Cindy W’s recipe

3/4 cup margarine (Hera here in Prague)

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

8 oz. plain yogurt

2 cups GF flour (I use Schar Mix C)

1 tsp. GF baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

 

Cream together margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add yogurt and blend well. Combine dry ingredients, then add yogurt mixture (stir only until all dry ingredients are moistened). Fill greased muffin tins or cupcake liners half full. Combine 3 Tbs. sugar with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; sprinkle half of this mixture over batter in each cup. Fill with remaining batter; sprinkle muffins with remaining cinnamon mixture. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 14-17 minutes. Enjoy! 

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Last Minute Sunday Morning Banana Muffins by L

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“Mommy, I want muffin,” those were the first words out of little P’s darling little puckered lips this morning.  “Mommy, I want muffin.”

Mommy wanted another hour of sleep. Although waking up at 8:10 on a Sunday morning shouldn’t be anything to complain about, especially if you are living with two toddlers. However, for someone who used to sleep until 10am on the weekends BK (Before Kids,) these “early” morning wake up calls are a heavy adjustment. I’ve never been a morning person.

Children do change you. They really do. That change happens so quickly, in a very natural way and for me, this parenthood journey continues to be a positive one. So, when my almost 3-year-old requested muffins for breakfast, I quickly set off for the task. When you have such a precious little person in your life, all you want to do is make them feel happy and loved. If it was muffins she wanted, it was muffins she was going to receive. Request granted!

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Where does one go for the quickest, healthiest and most reliably tasty muffins? The Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook for their Banana Bread recipe which can also be used to make more than a dozen muffins. This dairy free muffin recipe also includes whole wheat flour, wheat germ and just 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Fortunately, we had some very ripe bananas for the job and the rest of the ingredients on hand. It was a go!

After whipping up the recipe, scooping the batter into the muffin tins and taking them out of the oven 25 minutes later, I presented lil’P with her muffin. Can you guess how many bites she took? Go ahead, make a guess! Ok, I’ll tell you…THREE. Yes, THREE bites and she walked away from the table and asked her dad for some grapes. The story does have a happy ending. Her twin sister, lil’T, after eating her own muffin, reached over to her sister’s plate and happily enjoyed eating the rest of her sister’s abandoned baked goods.

The End.

Banana Muffins (adapted from The Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook)

3 very ripe bananas

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup wheat germ

Optional – 1 cup dates or 1 cup nuts or 1/2 cup chocolate chips (we chose the latter)

Preheat over to 375F or 170C

Grease or line muffin tray.

Mash bananas until smooth.

Cream oil and sugar, then add bananas and stir well.

Sift together flour, salt baking powder, and baking soda.

Mix in wheat germ.

Add this to the banana mixture and stir in any of the optional ingredients if you choose to use any of them.

The batter will be quite stiff.

Scoop into muffin tray, just halfway if you want smaller muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick of knife in center.

If it comes out clean, it is done.

Enjoy!

 

 

Cranberry Pear Pecan Coffee Cake

Cranberry Pear Pecan Coffee Cake

Cranberry Pear Pecan Coffee Cake

My mom LOVES pecans. When she comes to visit and I happen to be baking, she never fails to ask if pecans were added to the mix. If my mother could, she would dump cups and cups of pecans into every bowl of batter. I like pecans too, but I’m not one to get too nutty over it.

A quick peek at Union Square Market, NYC

A quick peek at Union Square Market, NYC

During my latest visit to NYC, I got a chance to stroll through Union Square Market. A few minutes into my walk,  several tables stocked with fresh ruby cranberries quickly captured my attention. In the Czech Republic, cranberries usually appear with a dish as a sauce for fried cheese, roast duck or as dried cranberries sold in packages. I have yet to cross paths with a barrel of the fresh kind in any of the markets or major grocery stores.  Although they weren’t on my grocery list, I couldn’t resist bringing a huge bag of these luscious dark red cranberries home. I did however, hold back from running my fingers through the deep baskets of berries. My 2-year-old daughters would have loved that!

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On the train ride back, I started to think about what to do with so many cranberries. I wanted something easy, moist and to have on hand for breakfast. When I got to my parents’ home, my daughters were still napping, so I sneaked in some internet time. After a bit of surfing, I found a recipe that called for cranberries, pears and buttermilk. I could sense that this cake would satisfy my craving for a moist cake to go with my morning coffee.

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Gathering up my baking tools and ingredients, my mom popped into the kitchen. “Are you going to bake?” she asks.

“Yep,” I replied, knowing exactly where this conversation was headed.

“Is there going to be pecans? Will it be a crunchy cake?” she asks.

“Of course, Ma,” I answered back immediately, even though I knew the original recipe didn’t include pecans.  So, here’s my version inspired by my mom’s passion for pecans.

photo-2Cranberry-Pear Pecan Coffee Cake

(adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large pear, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 cup of chopped pecans

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla.

Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

Fold in the pear, cranberries, 1/2 cup of pecans and orange peel.

Transfer to a 9-in. spring form pan coated with cooking spray and dusted with flour.

Combine brown sugar, remaining sugar and 1/2 cup of pecans.

Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

GF Jalapeno Egg Bake by Allison

Let’s be honest. There’s nothing quite like brunch. Brunch is what you like, some like mainly sweets while others like mainly savory but the great thing is you can decide. There seems to be no rules for brunch, well at least in my book. A very dear friend of mine C made this for me  while I was home for a family gathering awhile back and it was absolutely delicious. My family enjoyed brunch together and they had to try what I was raving about! One of the things I like about brunch as it seems to be more leisurely. I tend to sip my almond milk latte versus gulp it down for breakfast on the way to work. I might even think about juicing fresh pomegranates and adding a bit of champagne or making stuffed mushrooms and pumpkin scones. Rules are made to be broken during brunch and it is fun to break the rules sometimes.
 It is one of my “go-to” dishes when I have visitors and many people have enjoyed this dish in my home. Make it and enjoy a long leisurely brunch over great conversation with friends and family. Enjoy!
GF Jalapeno Egg Bake

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adapted from Parade magazine 
Ingredients
10-11 eggs (best if from the farmer’s market)
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 pint small curd cottage cheese
200 grams  cheddar cheese shredded (about one and a half to two cups)
½ c. butter, melted
8 oz. can green chilies or 8 oz jar of jalapenos (use less if you want it less spicy)
½ c. gluten free flour ( I like to use Mix C Schar brand)
½ tsp. salt
In a bowl beat eggs until lemon-colored. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, jack cheese, green chilies and butter. Stir gently to mix all ingredients. (I do not use an electric mixer.)
Pour mixture into a well-buttered/greased 9 x 13 pan.
My dear friend CW likes to add sliced tomatoes to the top before baking with a slice of sharp white cheese under the tomatoes. YUM!  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Serve with sour cream and salsa if you’d like but it delicious just plain as well! Enjoy!

Have Your Carrot Bread and Eat it Too! by L

Whole Wheat Carrot Bread

Whole Wheat Carrot Bread

I have a sweet tooth. I love cakes, cookies and ice cream. I love pies, chocolate and muffins. I love pancakes, waffles and …I think you get the picture. I don’t love getting on the scale and watching the pounds/kilos increase. Fortunately, I have two active and energetic toddlers to help me burn those unwanted calories, and a bunch of healthier recipes to help maintain my appetite for sweets.

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This recipe comes from one of my mommy friends. If you follow the blog, you may know that I have been trying to create some variety into our breakfast rotation. Little P has long been protesting against the warm and nutritious bowl of oatmeal served first thing in the morning. “No,” she says with authority, as her head and little index finger sway from side to side. I get it. The oatmeal has become boring and tiresome. I quite enjoy my piping hot bowl of porridge in the mornings, but I completely understand. Not everyone can eat this mush, day after day.

Mommy friend, L to the rescue! By chance, we happened to see each other at one of Prague’s many beer gardens ( lucky us!) Like most moms, she came prepared. Inside her “mom” bag were canisters of food, ready to nourish her little ones as soon as their hunger signals appeared. One of these containers housed some bread that snapped up my daughters’ attention. L kindly shared some slices with us. After scarfing down their pieces, they quickly returned for more. Clearly, I had to get this recipe.

L’s version was made with zucchini. This moist whole wheat bread can be eaten for breakfast or as a snack during any part of the day.  It hits the spot when I am craving cake, but doesn’t leave me feeling guilty after every bite.

Whole Wheat Zucchini or Carrot Bread

1 1/2 cups zucchini or carrots, grated.

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup honey or brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 cup nuts (optional)

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Beat together oil and honey, then add eggs, vanilla and zucchini or carrots.

Sift dry ingredients and add to the vegetable mixture.

Add nuts and raisins last, if using.

Bake in a greased loaf pan at 180/350 for 45-60 minutes.

Mama-Friendly French Toast Casserole

French Bread from the Na Plavka Market in Prague 2

French Bread from the Na Plavka Market in Prague 2

It’s official, again. Both of my daughters are boycotting oatmeal. Sometimes, Little T will finish eating at least more than half of her portion. Little P, on the other hand, will take 2 or 3 spoonfuls and then shake her head, “No,” and thrusts her bowl of porridge back at me.

What’s a mother of twins to do? Oatmeal is such a quick and easy breakfast to prepare and it can be served in so many delicious ways. Really, what’s wrong with my kids?

If you’ve been following my previous posts, you know that we always have a fresh carton of eggs from the Farmers Market on hand. I’m a big fan of french toast, pancakes and waffles, but with two hungry impatient toddlers whining for their breakfast, those dishes are normally reserved for the weekends. However, in my search for a breakfast alternative and one that would “Wow!” my toddlers taste buds, this came just in time- Overnight Baked French Toast to the rescue!

Crispy- that's the way I like it!

Crispy- that’s the way I like it!

This dish is so easy to prepare, I’m sure our household will be enjoying this a few days during the week and not just on the weekends. It takes ten minutes to prepare the dish in a baking pan. Then it is covered with foil and stored in the fridge overnight. In the morning, pop it in the oven and by the time you’ve got your kids washed up and dressed, you’ve got a casserole of sweet and crispy french toast awaiting you and your family. Forget having to stand over a hot stove and waiting for each slice to cook, while trying to keep your children from jumping off the sofa or climbing on top of the dining table. It’s a win-win situation!

Little P's hands couldn't wait for the photo shoot to end. "Gimme, gimme!"

Little P’s hands couldn’t wait for the photo shoot to end. “Gimme, gimme!”

Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

1 shallow baking dish with enough space for your slices of bread

1-2 loaves of french bread (all depends on your baking dish)

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup buttermilk (or just use 2 cups of regular milk)

1/4 cup brown sugar (for a sweeter dish, increase sugar to 1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 eggs

Butter a baking dish.

In a bowl combine the milks, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and eggs.

Whisk to combine.

Dip each piece of bread in the batter, covering it completely, then lay it in the baking dish. (You can layer the slices on top of one another)

Pour any remaining batter over the top of the bread.

Cover with foil and refrigerate.

The next morning, remove the foil and then bake at 180 C/350 F for 25 minutes.

Your french toast will come out crispy on top, but will also surprise you with a custard-like middle.

Serve with toppings of your choice.

We enjoyed it with some maple syrup, stewed apples and bananas!

Some Like ’em Scrambled, Some Like ’em Poached by Allison

Well truth be known, I like my eggs in a variety of ways. When I was growing up it was scrambled and that’s the only way I ate them . Then I ventured into fried egg land after I had some friends over and my friend E was fixing the yummiest looking fried eggs ever for his wife and I decided in the moment to indulge in one of his concoctions and boy was it delicious. Heading out for brunch on the weekend at cafes in Prague was something I did became part of the fabric of my life here in Prague. After going Gluten-Free, it was eggs that I was able to order when I was out at a restaurant as pancakes and muffins and even ham were off the list. One of my very favorite places to go for brunch is Cafe Lounge and they make the most amazing poached eggs. I kept thinking to myself, “I should learn how to make poached eggs”. But then I always heard how difficult it was to make them and you have to have the “egg poacher contraption” to assist you and such so I delayed my experiment….until Saturday. It was high time to do an experiment and see if I could have some success in making my very own poached eggs. So off I ventured to the Farmer’s Market Saturday afternoon on the river. The sun was shining, the air was crisp, and people were feeding the ducks and swans alongside the river again. It was if the heaviness in the air had lifted, it was the weekend. It was time for a little indulgence, relaxation and fun it seemed. A live band playing alternative music, children sipping hot chocolate, people lined up to get their dairy products for the week and the steam coming off the are all images that you can soak up in a few minutes of experiencing the Farmer’s Market on the river. Oh yeah, a view of the castle and this beautiful city too!


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So it turns out there are many, many different methods to poaching eggs and everyone seems to have a way that works for them or at least so it seems. But I needed to “czech it out” for myself and see what worked for me! So I tried one method and it totally did not work, then I combined two methods and I achieved the infamous poached egg. Now, does it look like the poached eggs from Cafe Lounge? Almost:)

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Note: The water is a bit cloudy as the first egg attempt was an epic fail and it “clouded” the water. The important part here is that the water temperature must be around 190 degrees F, not boiling!

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I chose to top my poached egg with my red pepper pesto that I often keep a supply of in the freezer and all of that on top of a bed of spinach. It was tasty to have a fancy egg at my house for brunch this morning, yum:)

So here’s what I did:

Ingredients and Tools

Fresh eggs (however many you would like, and yes they have to be fresh eggs)

A needle (3/8 inches thick or strong enough to poke a hole in the egg or a push pin)

A wide metal mesh spoon or a slotted spoon

2 1/2 Tablespoons of white vinegar

a small cup or bowl

pot for boiling the water

water of course:)

So I used the trusty Julia Child approach which can be found here except I didn’t use a metal poached egg holder) but found using the push pin to take the air out of the large end of the egg to be helpful. I also used Smitten Kitchen’s methodology of creating a “whirlpool” in the water to help the egg take shape. Using white vinegar worked well from Marks & Spencer but it can also be found at the Thai Asian store in Vinohrady as it helps to congeal the egg white more quickly or so they say! The temperature of the water is key like I noted above and how close the cup is to the water when you pour the egg into the hot water is and how quickly you do it. The closer to the water (get as close as you can without burning your fingers) and the quicker you can pour the egg into the water, the more successful you’ll be in making a delicious poached egg. You can then use a slotted spoon to gently shape the egg while it is cooking in the water for about 4 minutes or however firm you like your eggs. Cooking them for 4 minutes usually yield a soft and runny center. You can then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and place in a bath of ice water to stop the egg from cooking and to rinse off the vinegar, then eat as desired! While my poached eggs aren’t perfect, they are incredible tasty! Hope you enjoy your eggs whichever way you like ’em!