Monday, March 26, 2012

Recipe: Gluten-Free Clementine Cake

On Saturday, we were supposed to go see the Cherry Blossom Festival because this weekend was the end of the peak period for the one-hundred year old trees in full bloom--(in 1902, the city of Tokyo, Japan gave Washington D.C. 3,000 cherry trees, and this year, the city is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the trees.  Very sweet, no?)  

The trees usually start to bloom around April 4 and this year they started blooming on March 20.  We had more than a few days of very unseasonably warm weather and well, all the blossoms starting going crazy, very early!  But, as luck would have it, this past weekend, we reverted back to full-on Spring weather and it was cold, rainy, gray and cloudy...I guess like how it should be.  And because its not the most fun thing to be caught in a down pour with a 4 year old and a 7 year old, we cancelled our plans...

So, no Cherry Blossom Festival for us this year.  Sad.  

Instead of going downtown, though, we stayed home and made a cake.

And because of my recent detox/cleanse, I decided to make a gluten-free cake...why not?  We had all the ingredients; I had a recipe I wanted to tweak a bit..and we happen to have A LOT of clementines on perfect, we got to baking...and juicing...

 The cake is not even close to being healthy or good for you...
about all it can claim to be, health-wise, is gluten-free.  
But its incredibly moist, with a nice refreshing sweetness from the tangerines.  
The texture is nice and light and a slice of this cake goes quite well 
with a cup of tea on a rainy, Spring day.

You could also make this with lemon and that would be nice, too.

 Clementine Drizzle Cake
adapted from Gluten Free Baking
 by Phil Vicery

Makes: one 8-inch round cake
Preparation: 20 minutes
Baking: 30 minutes, plus cooling

For the cake
vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temp
2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup fine cornmeal or corn flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil, scant
zest and juice of 4 clementines

For the syrup
2 clementines
6 tablespoons sugar

Powder sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and 8-inch round cake pan with a removable bottom and line base with parchment paper.

Whisk the sugar and the eggs together in a food processor until thick and cream.  Sift together the flours, baking powder and corn starch and add this to the sugar and eggs.  Whisk in the milk, yogurt, oil and zest.  (reserving the juice for the syrup.)

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, until firm and springy in the center.  Test with a toothpick. Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool in pan.

To make the syrup, squeeze the clementines, and using reserved juice (for total of about 1/2 cup) place in small pan with sugar and boil together for 1 minute.  

Prick the warm cake all over with a skewer while its still in the pan, then pour on the hot syrup, filling the holes.  Once cake is cool, carefully remove it from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Dust with powder sugar and serve.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Signs of Spring

I desperately tried to hold out for that last fleeting, possibility of a late Spring snow storm...I really did.  But, let's face it, when the upcoming forecast for this week is consistently sunny and in the 70s, even I had to concede and give up hoping for snow...and while I do have some anxiety over what all this lovely weather, no-snow-winter means, i.e. global warming...sooner or later one has to embrace the season at hand, early or its just kind of hard not to love all things Spring...

Here is a collection of Spring, in and around our house from this weekend.

Luca with his new hair cut and Magda doing her best teen-age impression..they are getting SO big!!

Things around our kitchen more: artichokes, asparagus, mint, lemon...Springtime always reminds me of Italy because that is where and when Greg & I went on our honeymoon.  Also, Springtime on the east coast, for some reason, really is just so amazing to me...I am not used to such a triumphant welcome to the change of season by the daffodils, tulips, blossoms and birds...It just takes my breath away everyt time it rolls around--ESPECIALLY the Magnolia trees...  Next week is the Cherry Blossom Festival on The Mall in Washington, DC...will take LOTS of photos.  

This is a lemon vinaigrette I made with 1/4 c. lemon juice, 2 teaspoons both: honey and dijon mustard; 2 tablespoons each: basil, chives and flat leaf parsley-chopped; 1/2 c. olive oil; sea salt and fresh pepper.  I am using it on everything...especially good over butter lettuce, carrot, red onion and mint salad with grilled chicken.

Thanks so much for checking in...

Happy Spring!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Recipe: Crunchy Kale

AKA how to get your 4-almost 5 year old to eat something green!!

When it comes to eating at our house, my 7 year old daughter, Magda wins the prize, hands-down, for being the most adventurous eater.  Absolutely no contest.  At 2 years old, her favorite dish was Saag Paneer.  As she has gotten older--not only has she tried everything she has been offered, (more or less) she LOVES everything she has been offered!!

Pad Thai: can't get enough; veggie bibimbop or kimchi, bring it!...curries, sushi, souffles, artichokes, any veg roasted, pestos, Mexican mole sauce, nopales, anchovies on pizza...(ok, maybe not so crazy about anchovies!) Anything we throw it at her (not literally); she eats...even more crazy for a little kid...she enjoys it!

Luca, our son, on the other hand...not so much.  If its yellow (cheddar cheese & eggs) and brown (whole wheat flour tortillas) or white (pasta); he will eat it--no prob....but if there is even a speck of green...forget it; he can go into an over-the-top, tantrum mode quicker than you can say:



 Mac and Cheese..

which is about all he will eat--willingly...

Then we discovered a recipe for CRUNCHY KALE...and suddenly, everything we thought we knew--was wrong...Up was down, right was left, Luca was eating something green...willingly and we started seeing double....But now, that the shock has worn off, I am willing to bet that if you have a picky eater at home, this magic trick--to get them to eat something green--will work on them too...

Its really easy and I am sure you have heard of it by now...It's Crunchy Kale.

My wonderful, lovely, grocery shopping, prop stylist husband picked up some Kale for me this weekend.  He thought this Red Kale was prettier (and would make for better photos) than the kind the recipe calls for which is Tuscan Kale or Cavolo Kale.  Its not as pretty, but it does work well for this recipe, especially if you want to roast it whole-leaf...its very fun to munch it that way.  But, really ANY kind of Kale works great for this...if your store only has one kind, just try biggie.

So, easy...pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.  The deal with this recipe is LOW AND SLOW!

Chop up your Kale OR in the case of the Italian kind--leave it whole! and toss with some good olive oil and sea salt.  Not too much of either...just a can add more salt if necessary once its done cooking.

Roast in oven for 30-35 minutes until nice and crispy...may take a little bit more time; too much olive oil can make it soggy.  Once out the oven, let cool down a bit and then...

Prepare to be amazed...

Yes, that is our son eating something with actual nutritional value.  I am so proud--I think I am actually  bursting mental buttons!  When all cooked up, its not much to look at, but with that wonderful CRUNCH, its the perfect vehicle for salty goodness and a plate of this stuff does not last long in our house.   Honestly, it just kind of disappears...we don't have to force anyone to eat it--they just do.  Not to mention, its really fun to eat.

But the VERY best part is that they have no idea how really good it actually is for them!!

 HA! HA! : )

so awesome!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

An afghan blanket for Luca

This weekend, I finished up a little something for Luca.  A chevron pattern merino wool (blended with a little cashmere--so luxurious!) blanket that I crocheted for him...and just to give you a little sense in which the speed I crochet...I bought the yarn and began this project back in January 2009.  Its been a long time in the making!  Way too long actually..

The colors are red, cream, a kind of turquoise/robin's egg blue and navy blue--
although I know it looks like black in the photos.

Crocheting a blanket is the kind of project I love most.  This is my second blanket crocheting endeavor.  I pick it up and put it down when it feels good...mainly in the fall and winter months.(Nothing quite like a pile of wool draped over your legs while watching a movie at home in a humid DC July!! : )

But for some reason, this project was put down way more than it was picked up...probably moving twice in the last three years didn't help; neither did doing all this crazy blog stuff NOR having 2 kids, 6 and under!

The half-worked project, just kind of bundled, living in its basket--kept looking at me every time I plopped down on the couch to watch something...I would look at it back, but not compelled enough to pick it up, until one day Luca said...Mama, when are you going to finish my blanket?  Oh, gosh...good question.  Maybe I should finish it.  After all, that yarn was NOT cheap!  And it would be nice to have it done...

And then, just like that, I picked it up again--and--as things are with me...I got totally back into it and became totally crazed to finish it...I crocheted every chance I got--and with a very special thank you to DOWNTON ABBEY (I tended to crochet the most on Sunday nights, in front of our tv, which is faithfully tuned to PBS)...I got it done!  Finished dimensions are 30 x 60...Luca is very happy!

And I got it done, it should be noted,
just in time for those upcoming summer months!!  : )
Nice timing.