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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GF Pavlova with a Twist by Allison

I tried making pavlova two times before with my hand-held “immersion blender/tool” but it was an epic fail. The egg whites just never got stiff enough and my “Tesco special” was not making the grade. So I gave up…..until I pulled my cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer out of my top cupboard. Why yes, I had a KitchenAid mixer but couldn’t ever get it to work properly as my voltage converter I had wasn’t working properly. A friend was getting rid of hers so whallah! I knew where all of the fuse boxes were and had access to all of them in case I blew any fuses, which I did, but I got my prized KitchenAid mixer to work! This definitely called for a re-do of the pavlova as I knew my KitchenAid would be able to get the job done. You see, I was such an avid baker that I decided to carry my KitchenAid mixer back with me from the U.S. to Prague in my carry-on bag several years ago. Oh you should have seen the looks on the security personnel’s faces! They were pulling each other towards the screen and shaking their heads in disbelief! One gentleman pulled me aside and said, “Mam, is this mixer yours?!” I replied, “Yes it is sir….” with a smile of course and he said, “Oh, well Mam, we haven’t seen a KitchenAid mixer come through here before! It is quite an unusual item to carry with you but everything is fine from our side, hope it makes the journey for you” and that was that! I knew it was a questionable item to take on the plane but I did have my Mom wait before she left the airport in case they wouldn’t allow it so I could give it to her to take home. But I gave my Mom the thumbs up signal and waved goodbye before I headed towards my gate on the other side of security.
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Luckily I was flying business class on award miles and no one questioned the weight of my bag along my journey. In case you’re wondering, I was able to lift it into the overhead compartment on my own on two different flights as well! So you can imagine how rewarding it was for me to finally use it and to pull off a pavlova to serve at Easter brunch! The twist is the pavlova has cinnamon and vanilla bean in it…..and it is delicious, seriously delicious.

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Now I just need to work on preventing the cracking of the pavlova so next time I won’t cook it as long!

recipe for the pavlova slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients 

For the pavlova:
6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon balsamic vinegar
seeds scraped from a vanilla bean

To assemble:

2 small containers or 1 large container of liquid whipped cream 40% fat
2 Tbsp. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries for the top

To make the pavlova: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until satiny peaks form. Add the sugar, 1 spoonful at a time, and continue beating until the mixture becomes stiff and very shiny.

Using a spatula, fold in the cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla bean. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, forming a 10-inch circle that is about 2-inches thick.

Place in the oven, and immediately turn the oven down to 300°F or 150°C. Bake for about 1 hour . When the pavlova is done baking, it should look and feel dry on top. Remove from the oven, and let cool in a dry place overnight.

The next day, invert the pavlova onto a serving dish, peel away the parchment and reverse onto another serving dish. The pavlova shell can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap and keep it in a dry place until ready to assemble.

To make the whip cream: Use an electric whisk to beat the whipping cream until smooth. Whisk in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.

To assemble the pavolva: Dollop the whipped cream into the center of the pavlova, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the fruit over the cream. Enjoy with friends and family!

 

 

Gluten-Free Blueberry Buckle by Allison

Blueberries by the basket you say? Yes indeed, I’ve been buying blueberries by the basket! Why not? Being from the Pacific Northwest I grew up with being able to have fresh berries at my fingertips. I can remember back when I was in college and seeking out “U-Pick Farms” and I got bucket loads of raspberries for 50 cents a pound! I made cartons of freezer jam that night until the wee hours of the morning! Now I’m in the Czech Republic which is also “Berry Land” and I’m lucky to be able to have access to local farmers who grow the berries. They just taste better than the kind you buy in large stores let me tell ya! So here’s one way to get some more antioxidants in your system, eat blueberry buckle!photo (4)

This is my Mom’s recipe and it is certainly a family favorite. You can use frozen blueberries as well just be sure to thaw them out before-hand and make sure they are without extra moisture. My crumbly topping sank to the bottom as I used a bit more butter than needed but they turned out great and they were very delicious!
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Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake
slightly adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free flour ( I like Schar Mix C gluten-free flour)

¾ cup sugar

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. butter

¾ cup milk

1 egg

2 cups well-drained blueberries

 

Topping:

½ cup sugar

1/3 gluten-free flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup soft butter

Mix and sprinkle over batter in pan.

 

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease round layer pan, 9 ½ inches or square pan, 8″ x 8″ pan or pour into a muffin tin.  Blend all ingredients except blueberries and topping.  Beat for ½ minute.  Spread in pan.

Sprinkle topping over batter and bake for 45 to 50 minutes if baking it in a pan or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. My muffins baked about 20 minutes.

 

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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!

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!

Sunday Blueberry Scones by L

We’re back in Prague and berries are everywhere! Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (just to name a few) are the stars of our city’s Farmers Markets. It’s an explosion of berries here!

P2170263Having spent the last 6 weeks in Spain, where the weather was just too hot to be in the kitchen, I am suddenly struck by the baking bug. Maybe it has something to do with the berry boom, or that the weather in Prague is bearable enough to turn my oven back on. Whatever it is, I’m happy to be stirring up a commotion in my kitchen!

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This baked treat comes from the cookbook Breakfast, Lunch, Tea.   I previously highlighted a few other recipes from this British owned Parisian bakery on the blog. The book features several recipes on scones, but this one is my favorite to bake and eat!

P2170266Blueberry Scones

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2 cups plain flour

1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

handful of cornmeal

2 heaping tablespoons baking powder

2 heaping tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter

2 handfuls blueberries

1 egg

1 1/4 cups milk

1 tablespoon demerara sugarP2170269

Preheat the oven 400F/200C

Grease or line a baking tray.

Sift both flours into bowl and add cornmeal.

Mix in the baking powder, sugar and salt.

Then cut the butter in pieces and add to the mix.

With your fingers, rub in the butter with the ingredients until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Mix in lemon zest.

Add blueberries and carefully mix the ingredients.

Beat egg in a large bowl and add milk.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then pour in liquid.

Use a fork to begin blending ingredients, then use your hands.

Try not to over mix the dough. Lightly bring everything together.

The dough should not be sticky. If it’s too wet, add flour. Too dry, add milk.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about an 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) thick.

Using a round 2 inch (5cm) cutter, cut the dough in rounds and place them on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Cool for ten minutes.

Serve with cream or butter.

Enjoy!

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!