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Sep 02, 2015
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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By the Book

By the Book: Carla Kelly’s Strawberry Basil Scones

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

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I used to be an avid baker, but things changed a few years ago after I started a small kitchen fire with an errant kitchen towel. Since that not so holly-jolly Christmas, I’ve taken an extended hiatus from baking, but after spying this recipe for summery strawberry basil scones, I decided my stomach would overpower my fear.

Carla Kelly’s book, Vegan Al Fresco, is a collection of vegan recipes meant to be consumed at picnics and on patios. They also seem simple to prepare and boast versatility; the strawberries in these scones, Kelly claimed, can be replaced with blueberries.

 

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Strawberry and basil are a classic combo, and both are available in abundance at farmers markets right now. And while the recipe is techincally vegan, the only changes from a traditional scone recipe is soy milk in place of cow’s milk and canola oil in place of butter. All other ingredients are available in any baking aisle, so I didn’t have to hit three different specialty shops hunting down an obscure dairy substitute.

 

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I began the recipe with high hopes and an empty stomach. First, I chopped the strawberries and basil, which smelled divine. Then I combined the soy milk and the apple cider vinegar, a vegan substitute for buttermilk. The soy milk immediately began to bubble, but don’t fret – it’s suppose to do that. The reaction is meant to create the tangy flavor notes buttermilk provides.

 

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Whisking in the jam, sugar, oil and extract was pretty straightforward, and left a pink milky mixture with chunks of jam throughout. Don’t mix the batter too thoroughly; the chunks of strawberries and jam throughout the scones are the tastiest part.

 

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Rather than shaping the dough and then slicing it into triangles, Kelly advocated scooping 1/3-cup portions onto the baking sheet, hence their more freeform shape. They required only 15 minutes in the oven – perfect, since I was hungry now.

 

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The finished product was light and cakey, more like a strawberry bread than a denser, crumbly scone. They also lacked the berry and basil punch I expected, though I quickly remedied that with a thick smear of strawberry jam on top. Next time I make these summer treats, I’ll add more sugar and jam to up their sweetness – even if that loses my outdoor fete a few healthy points.

 

Strawberry & Basil Scones
10 scones

1 cup (250 ml.) plain soy milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. strawberry jam
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. strawberry or vanilla extract
2 cups (500 m.) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 m.) whole wheat pastry flour
3½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup (125 ml.) finely diced fresh strawberries, about 8 medium
2 heaping tsp. finely chopped fresh basil

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl, combine the soy milk and vinegar. Let it thicken for 5 minutes. Stir in the jam, sugar, oil and extract and whisk to combine and eliminate large lumps of jam.
• Sift in the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to just combine. Gently fold in the strawberries and basil.
• Portion the dough into 10 scones with a 1/3 cup (80 ml.) measure. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
• Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to complete cooling, or serve warm.

Reprinted with permission from Arsenal Pump Press

What’s your favorite use for seasonal strawberries? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Vegan Al Fresco.

 

 

By the Book: Colby and Megan Garrelts’ Blueberry Oat Breakfast Cake

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

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Usually I love a challenging recipe. The kind of recipe that calls for 7,000 ingredients (half of which have to be ordered online), requires more mixing bowls and utensils than I own and takes days to prepare. Love those. But sometimes an avid home cook needs a break. Colby and Megan Garrelts’ Made in America: A Modern Collection of Classic Recipes is that kind of return to honest, simple cooking. This is a collection of Midwestern soul food that called up childhood memories, family traditions and reminded me that delicious food is restorative and refreshing long after it leaves the palate.

 

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The Garrelts both hail from the Midwest – he from Kansas, she from Chicago – and together own Rye and Bluestem in Kansas City. Colby is a co-executive chef and a James Beard Award-winning chef, while Megan also serves as co-executive chef and a James Beard Award-semifinalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef. (Sidebar: This accomplished culinary couple is coming to The Restaurant at The Cheshire on Mon., June 8 for the next installment of the Sauce Celebrity Chef Series.)

 

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Knowing full well that I will never be an award-winning chef, I was delighted to find Made in America was full of accessible recipes for those of us who have not been recognized by the James Beard Foundation. I chose to treat some special people to the Blueberry Oat Breakfast Cake. Cake for breakfast? Sounds like a plan.

 

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The ingredients list was straightforward, and I picked up everything I needed at just one store. The directions were easy to follow and intuitive. I particularly liked that the cake can be assembled the night before, then baked the next morning while your coffee brews. Of course, I could not wait, so I baked it right away.

The result was a perfect start to the day – a mildly sweet, lemony cake texture with juicy blueberries that burst slightly during baking and a rich and hearty streusel topping. Perhaps a new tradition has been born.

 

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Blueberry Oat Breakfast Cake
Makes 1 8-inch square cake

Oat Streusel
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Cake
¾ cup granulated sugar
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. buttermilk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
2 pints fresh blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1 cup heavy cream, whipped up to soft peaks for serving

• To make the oat streusel, place the brown sugar, butter, flour, cinnamon and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the streusel mixture to a medium bowl and gently fold in the oats. Set aside in the refrigerator. (You may transfer the streusel to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 1 month.)
• To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square cake pan and set aside.
• Combine the sugar, butter and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the mixture until light and fluffy, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla to the creamed butter mixture and mix to combine.
• In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until just incorporated, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl while mixing. Transfer the cake batter to the prepared cake pan, using a spatula to spread the cake batter evenly. Once the batter is evenly spread across the bottom of the cake pan, use the spatula to smear the batter up the sides of the pan, coating the entire inside of the cake pan. Spread the blueberries across the top of the cake batter, then sprinkle the oat streusel topping evenly over the blueberries to cover. (The cake can be prepared to this point and refrigerated, covered, overnight.)
• Bake the cake until it is golden brown along the edges and the center begins to bubble from the blueberries, about 45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before slicing into wedges; the cake will sink slightly in the center from the weight of the berries. Serve at room temperature or warm slightly before serving, topping each slice with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Reprinted with permission from Andrews McMeel Publishing

What’s your go-to make-ahead breakfast dish? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a SIGNED copy of Made in America by Colby and Megan Garrelts.

 

 

By the Book: Everyone’s Favorite Birthday Cake from ‘Baked Occasions’

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

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I love New York City bakeshop Baked. Granted, I’ve never actually been there, but I’ve tried plenty of its desserts using recipes from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and the follow-up, Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients. Co-owners Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito have provided me with many delicious desserts. Each cake and batch of cookies turned out wonderful, though by far the best – in fact, the best dessert I’ve ever made – was their Sweet and Salty Cake.

 

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However, between the cake, the frosting and the caramel, this dessert takes hours. So when I got my hands on a copy of their latest book, Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays and Informal Celebrations, I decided to go with something a little simpler.

 

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Everyone’s Favorite Birthday Cake was described as my favorite: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I’ve made my share of dry cakes, but when a recipe has two fats in the batter, that never happens. This recipe calls for both sour cream and butter. I used Plugra, a European butter with a higher butterfat content. The cake was indeed moist, but the sour cream also made it pretty dense. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in my mind, a birthday cake has a tender, airy crumb, and the hit of cinnamon in the batter took this from birthday cake to breakfast cake status.

 

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The chocolate frosting uses cream cheese, butter, chocolate and confectioners’ sugar, which I really liked. I tend to shy away from buttercream frostings, but this one didn’t disappoint. The cream cheese balanced it out and tempered the sweetness of the other ingredients. Unfortunately, because this dessert had the consistency of a coffee cake, I wanted a sugary glaze instead of birthday cake frosting.

 

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I probably won’t make this recipe again because it wasn’t my taste, but there’s no denying that it was a quality dessert. I would definitely turn to this book again for other ideas.

 

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Everyone’s Favorite Birthday Cake
Sour cream cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting
1 8-inch two-layer cake
10 to 12 servings

For the sour cream cake:
2½ cups plus 2 Tbsp. (330 g.) cake flour
1 scant Tbsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
7 oz. (1¾ sticks/200 g.) unsalted butter, softened, cut into ½-inch pieces, plus more for the pans
1 cup (200 g.) granulated sugar
¾ cup (165 g.) firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1½ (345 g.) cups sour cream

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out the excess.
• In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; set aside.
• In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the speed to low; add the flour mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Set the pans on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before loosening the sides of the cakes from the pans with a small knife and inverting them onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper and turn the cakes right side up; let them cool completely.

For the chocolate cream cheese frosting:
4 oz. (1 stick/115 g.) unsalted butter, softened
1 (8 oz. /226 g.) package cream cheese, softened
3 to 3½ cups (340 to 395 g.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 oz. (85 g.) dark chocolate, melted and cooled

• Beat the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add only 3 cups (340 g.) confectioner’s sugar and the salt; beat until smooth. Add the chocolate and mix until well combined. If the frosting seems too loose, add additional confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it becomes thicker. Do not overheat. The frosting can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator; let it soften at room temperature before using.
• Place 1 cooled cake layer on a serving platter. If necessary, trim the top to create a flat surface. Spread about ¾ cup (200 g.) of frosting on top. Add the top layer and trim if you want (some people prefer a domed cake top). Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake (called a crumb coat, this helps to keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake), and place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate for another 10 minutes to set before serving.

Reprinted with permission from Stewart, Tabori & Chang

What’s your go-to birthday dessert? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Baked Occasions.

By the Book: Julie Reiner’s Americano Highball

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

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My at-home bartending skills leave a little something to be desired. For example, I have a decent selection of spirits, but I never seem to remember to buy vermouth. My rocks glasses and whiskey stones are lovely, but I don’t own a shaker. I can make a solid Manhattan or Old-Fashioned, but that’s about it.

It’s high time I upped my cocktail game, and Julie Reiner’s new book, The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion, is the perfect beginner bartending textbook. Reiner’s resume speaks volumes about her prodigious skill; she is co-owner of the Clover Club in Brooklyn and Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan, and she’s been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, The Wall Street Journal and umpteen other publications.

Reiner intended this book to serve as a resource for home bartenders, not an industry guide, which means the tips, techniques and equipment she recommends are accessible to the rest of us. She goes into detailed explanations about the difference between a Boston shaker and a cobber shaker or a Hawthorne strainer and a julep strainer, but doesn’t insist you buy one of each. Just choose what works best in your home.

The recipes are divided by season as opposed to spirit, which is a welcome change from most cocktail books. Instead of automatically flipping to the bourbon section, as I usually would, I paged through a wide variety of fresh spring beverages that use berries and bright young herbs – perfect for brunch or evenings on the patio.

 

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While there are dozens of more complex cocktails (a verdant concoction named Green Giant called for sugar snap peas and tarragon leaves), I opted for a simple classic that even my beginner abilities couldn’t screw up: an Americano.

Reiner calls the Americano Highball a perfect brunch drink, and I’m inclined to agree. No complicated proportions or techniques to master, no endless parade of garnishes piled on top – just equal parts vermouth and Campari topped with club soda, garnished with an orange twist. It’s a balanced drink that cuts the sweet vermouth with bitter Campari, and it has just enough fizz to gently cure any lingering ails from the night before.

 

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Americano Highball
1 serving

1½ oz. sweet vermouth
1½ oz. Campari
Club soda
Orange twist, for garnish

• Fill a highball glass with ice and add the sweet vermouth and the Campari. Top with the club soda and gently stir with a bar spoon. Garnish with the orange twist.

Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Life & Style

Bloody marys and mimosas are brunch classics, but what cocktail do you enjoy when you mix things up at brunch? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Craft Cocktail Party.

By the Book: Gastón Acurio’s Mixed Ceviche

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

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When I held up Peru: The Cookbook to a trio of Peruvians at a recent dinner party, I was met with shrieks with delight. “¡Ay, Gastón Acurio!” Acurio is a superstar in his own country, but his culinary influence reaches much farther. He owns nearly four dozen restaurants around the globe, including La Mar in San Francisco and Miami. With Peru: The Cookbook (to be released May 18), Acurio makes Peruvian cuisine even more accessible to the English-speaking cook.

My dinner pals salivated over the 500 recipes in this compendium of classic Peruvian dishes. There were so many they longed for – lomo saltado (beef stir fry), tacu tacu (a patty of rice and mashed beans, often served with breaded steak or a fried egg) and especially fish dishes. We agreed that ceviche showcases the fresh flavors of Peruvian cuisine. Among the 30 ceviche recipes in the cookbook, Acurio’s mixed ceviche – squid, white fish, prawns, octopus and scallops – appealed most to the seafood lover in me.

 

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Although ceviche is usually a dish of raw fish or seafood marinated in acid, Acurio’s recipe cooks the squid and octopus and blanches the prawns. The upside to this method is that it shaves a lot off the marinade time.

 

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While I prepped the seafood, a friend got a workout juicing the lemons. The recipe calls for the juice of 20 small lemons. As it happened, the Asian market where I purchased fresh produce for this recipe only sold lemons the size of a fist. In the end, seven of these humongous lemons produced the equivalent of 2½ cups juice, which I poured over the chopped seafood.

 

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Ceviche is often enhanced with the flavors of onions, corn, chiles and culantro, a relative of cilantro. True to tradition, Acurio’s recipe called for all of these. While I didn’t intend to deviate from his recipe, the Asian market threw another wrench in my plans. The only sweet potato was a Japanese variety, and fresh corn was unavailable so I settled for a can of baby corn, I don’t think Acurio would mind the Japanese inflection I added to the ceviche since Japanese is one of many international cuisines that has Peruvian culture over the years. “These people arrived in Peru with their memories, their ingredients, their techniques, and they started mixing with the locals,” said Acurio in one interview.

The dish was delicious. The flavors were fresh and bright. The produce lent crunchy texture to the chewy seafood medley. If you haven’t already jumped on the Peruvian culinary bandwagon that is gaining traction in the U.S., once you get your hands on Acurio’s book, you, like his compatriots, will shriek, “¡Ay, Gastón Acurio!”

 

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Gastón Acurio’s Mixed ceviche
4 servings

5½ oz. squid, cleaned
1 6-oz. white fish fillet
12 shrimp (prawns), blanched
7 oz. cooked octopus, thinly sliced
12 scallops, cleaned
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 tsp. chipped limo chile
Juice of 20 small lemons
1 tsp. chopped culantro or cilantro leaves
2 or 3 ice cubes
1 red onion, sliced into half-moon crescents
1 corncob, cooked and kernels removed
Half sweet potato, boiled and cut into 8 slices

• Put the squid in the boiling water for 40 seconds. Drain and cut in ¼-inch rings.
• Cut the fish into ¾-inch cubes and place in a bowl with the shrimp, squid, octopus and scallops. Season with the salt and pepper. After 1 minute, add the garlic and limo chile. Mix together well.
• Pour over the lemon juice and add the culantro or cilantro leaves and ice cubes. Stir and let stand for a few seconds. Add the red onion and remove the ice cubes. Mix together and adjust the seasoning to taste.
• Serve in a large shallow bowl with cooked corn kernels and boiled sweet potato slices.

Reprinted with permission from Phaidon

What is your most memorable experience with Peruvian cuisine? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Peru by Gastón Acurio. 

 

 

By the Book: Sara Forte’s Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

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Over the years, I have occasionally visited Sara Forte’s blog, Sprouted Kitchen, but I always wrote it off as one of those blogs. You know, the ones so obsessed with making everything wholesome, nutrient-packed and healthy that I assumed recipes like Deconstructed Beet Stacks and Shiitake Mushroom and Lentil Asian Tacos would never mesh with my love for cheese and meat. I thought the same when Forte’s cookbook, The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, crossed my desk. I was wrong.

To be fair, many of the recipes in Forte’s cookbook are focused on healthful eating. They’re mostly vegetarian with only a few lean animal proteins like salmon and ground turkey tossed into a few of the heartier recipes. What did hook me, though, was the book’s concept: Every dish is meant to be served in a bowl. I love assembling bowls for any meal – breakfast hash with a sunny egg, lentils or rice with roasted vegetables and shrimp, a gooey helping of mac-n-cheese or a big scoop of meaty chili. Everything is better in a bowl.

 

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The nearly 100 recipes in The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, which range from side dishes to desserts, are all meant to be served in my favorite eating vessel. And while some recipes sounded entirely too hippie for me (there actually is a recipe for a Hippie Bowl), others like Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce and Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Frizzled Leeks appealed to my shared love of Midwestern comfort food and fresh vegetables.

Forte’s bowl of Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons bowl delivered a powerful punch of spring produce – endive, artichokes and great heaping handfuls of peppery arugula – all wrapped in a luxurious cream sauce. Yes, cream sauce, made with a whopping half-cup of creme fraiche, a half-stick of butter and an unholy amount of grated cheese.

 

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What really makes this dish sing, though, is the hit of charred lemon. Unable to find Meyer lemons at my local supermarket, I opted for two small organic lemons instead. I made quick work of them in my cast-iron skillet, then chopped them up and tossed them into the sauce while the pasta cooked. A word of advice: taste your lemons first. Forte prescribed two teaspoons sugar to sweeten them, but they were still a bit too bitter. Another half teaspoon will do the trick next time.

 

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And there will be a next time. While my gluttonous side indulged in the rich sauce, I still felt slightly virtuous thanks to the plethora of vegetables swimming around my pasta shells. I may never add flaxseed meal to my falafel and my chili will always contain meat, but if this dish is any indication, plenty of Forte’s recipes will hit the balance of satisfying and healthy – especially when served in a bowl.

 

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Spring Noodles with Artichokes, Pecorino and Charred Lemons
4 servings

2 small Meyer lemons
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. natural cane sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 endives, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can, 1 (12 oz.) frozen package, or 3 large, fresh steamed artichoke hearts, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. creme fraiche
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
12 oz. (¾ lb.) fusilli or shell pasta
1 egg, at room temperature
1¼ cups coarsely grated pecorino cheese
2 to 3 cups arugula
Fresh parsley, for garnish
Fresh dill, for garnish

• Slice the lemons crosswise into ¼-inch rings and remove the seeds with a small knife. Toss the slices with the olive oil and sugar. Grill or broil the slices, flipping halfway through, until char marks appear on the lemons and they begin to soften. Set aside.
• Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil.
• In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Slice the endive lengthwise, discarding the tough core, and then into ½-inch half moons. Add the garlic and endives to the warm butter and saute for 1 minute, just until softened. Add the artichoke hearts and a few pinches salt and sauté until warmed. Stir in the remaining butter, white balsamic, crème fraiche, nutmeg, cayenne and dried herbs. Chop the lemons into small pieces and add them to the pan as well. Keep the heat on low and cover.
• Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain and reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with ½ cup of the cheese and ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water. Into the vegetable mixture, add the noodles and egg mixture and toss until everything is coated and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the arugula and a few more pinches salt and pepper to taste. Toss to mix, adding pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce.
• Serve each bowl warm with a generous sprinkle of cheese and the fresh herbs.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

What is your favorite food blog and why? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon.

By the Book: Erin McKenna’s Carrot Bread

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

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As fellow gluten-free and dairy-free diners can attest, eating with dietary restrictions is easier said than done. At restaurants, we must ignore our friends’ barely-concealed cringes as we deconstruct an entree to conform to our needs. At home, we spend hours scouring niche food blogs for our next meal. Perhaps the biggest test of my willpower, though, is when an unknowing waiter places an overflowing bread basket in front of me. After years of coveting that basket of forbidden gluten, I was thrilled when my editor Catherine Klene dropped a copy of Bread & Butter: Gluten-Free Vegan Recipes to Fill Your Bread Basket by my desk.

Sauce interns get to try a lot of food on the job, and my editors always search for something I can eat among the loot, usually only to be foiled — a slice of cake might be gluten-free, but not dairy-free, or vice versa. That’s why McKenna’s book, featuring indulgent recipes that are gluten-free and vegan, seemed the perfect end to a semester-long quest for “something Tori can eat.”

McKenna, who also passed on the bread basket for two decades due to a gluten sensitivity, now runs BabyCakes, a gluten-free vegan bakery with locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Orlando. Based on recipes pioneered in her bakery, her new cookbook begins with a break down of basic ingredients and baking tips invaluable to those new to specialty baking. From there, her book is broken up into chapters by category: morning treats, breads (of course), sandwiches, pizza and focaccia, kids’ recipes, international cuisine, puff pastries and tarts, snacks, dips and dressings (including vegan butter!), and desserts. While the pain au chocolate looked tempting, I chose the carrot bread because it looked both doable and delicious.

 

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McKenna’s recipes are straightforward and concise throughout, usually taking no more than a page of text punctuated with beautiful photos and colorful design. Her carrot bread calls for walnut oil or coconut oil, vegan sugar, gluten-free baking flour (we used Cup 4 Cup), arrowroot, xanthan gum, shredded carrots and optional chopped walnuts. Gluten-free home cooks already have most of these items in our kitchen pantries.

As an amateur baker, I found McKenna’s instructions easy to follow. The only painstaking part of the baking process was shredding all those carrots. Next time, I’ll do this the night before or use the shredder attachment on a food processor. Also be aware that this recipe takes some time – as a yeast bread, the dough needs an hour to rise, and then requires another 35 minutes in the oven. Keep a good book on hand or start trolling the Internet for more niche foodie blogs.

Despite these few bumps, I found the finished product to be well worth the wait. For someone who hasn’t eaten bread, much less homemade bread, in quite some time, McKenna’s carrot bread truly was a treat. I found the bread to be spongy and light, with a slight texture and crunch from the walnuts. Though the book claims that even non gluten-free and vegan people will love this recipe, my Sauce coworkers claim they could tell the difference. Still, for those gluten-free and vegan among us, this carrot bread is a real indulgence.

 

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Carrot Bread
Makes 1 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf

3 Tbsp. walnut oil or melted unscented coconut oil, plus more for the pan
1½ cups warm water (about 100 degrees)
4 Tbsp. vegan sugar
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
2 Tbsp. arrowroot
½ tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1½ tsp. salt
2 cups firmly packed shredded carrots
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

• Lightly grease a 7-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pan with oil.
• In a small bowl, combine the oil, warm water, sugar and yeast. Stir once and set aside to proof until it bubbles, about 10 minutes.
• In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir until it is the consistency of cake batter. If the dough is too thick, add additional warm water one splash at a time. Fold in the carrots and the walnuts (if using). Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan, cover with a dish towel, and let the dough rise for 1 hour.
• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• Bake the bread for 20 minutes, and then rotate the pan 180 degrees. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
• Let the bread cool in the pan for 1 hour before slicing.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter

What’s the most creative recipe you’ve used to accommodate someone’s dietary restrictions? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Erin McKenna’s Bread & Butter.

By the Book: A New Eggs Benedict from ‘A Modern Way to Eat’

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

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Sometimes I look at a cookbook like A Modern Way to Eat by Anna Jones and think, “God, who eats like this on a regular basis?” (No, hipster rooftop-gardening vegans who make nut milk on the weekends don’t count.) I’m talking super healthy options like cashew and chestnut sausages; cilantro and orange-scented buckwheat; or mint, pistachio and zucchini balls. I’ve tried my fair share of “good-for-you” recipes, and I always feel baited. They tell me it tastes good, but more often than not, those recipes fall flat.

However, I’ve recently tried to focus on my fitness, so I figured I probably should eat clean – at least until I can’t stand it any longer. A Modern Way to Eat has lots of pretty pictures of food, and though you don’t see any faces, I can just imagine how fabulously young and dewy their faces look from all the greens they’re eating.

 

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I have a thing for brunch, particularly eggs Benedict, so I decided to try Jones’ version. Her New Eggs Benedict swaps a sweet potato for the English muffin and an avocado-cashew sauce for luscious buttery hollandaise. At least I got to keep the poached egg.

 

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I admit, this was actually pretty delicious. The sweet potato rounds, roasted with oil, salt and pepper, were a nice base, and the sauteed onions gave a necessary savory burst. The greens added an earthy bite, but the hollandaise was the most surprising finish. I thinned it with quite a bit of water in order to pour it, but the cashews and avocado still provided that buttery richness necessary on a Benedict. It’s hard to make healthy food both crave-able and filling, but this dish was indeed satisfying and, as promised, I felt amazing after eating it.

 

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A New Eggs Benedict
4 servings

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 3/8-inch rounds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive or grapeseed oil
2 medium red onions, peeled and finely sliced
6 handfuls spinach, with any big stalks removed
4 organic or free-range eggs

For the quick hollandaise:
A small handful cashew nuts, soaked* in water
½ an avocado
A small bunch fresh tarragon or dill, leaves picked
Juice of ½ a lime

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
• Lay the sweet potato slices on a couple of baking trays, season with salt and pepper, drizzle lightly with oil, and roast for 20 minutes until soft throughout and crisping at the edges.
• Now on to the onions. Put a pan over medium heat, add a little oil, and then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and sweet and starting to brown. Scoop them into a bowl and set aside, keeping the pan to use later.
• To make your hollandaise, grind the drained cashews in a food processor until you have a crumbly paste. Add the avocado and most of the tarragon or dill with the lime juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper and blend again. If you need to, thin the sauce with a little water until it is thick but pourable.
• Heat the pan you cooked the onions in over medium heat. Add the spinach and a drop of olive oil and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to wilt but is still vivid green.
• Next, poach the eggs. Heat a pan of water until boiling – I use a frying pan, but use whatever pan is most comfortable for you for poaching eggs. Turn the heat down until the water is barely bubbling, then crack in the eggs and leave them to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towels.
• To serve, lay some of the sweet potatoes in the middle of each plate. Top with the onions and wilted spinach, then add the egg and a spoonful of hollandaise. Scatter over the rest of the tarragon or dill, season with salt and pepper, and dig in.

* Soak the cashew nuts in water overnight, but if you forget, half an hour’s soaking will do.

Other ways to use your quick avocado hollandaise:
Spoon over grilled asparagus.
On top of a green spring risotto.
Next to a simple poached egg on toast.
In sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.

Reprinted with permission from 10 Speed Press

Eggs Benedict has come a long way from the traditional English muffin, ham, egg and hollandaise. The variations on this brunch classic are endless. What’s your go-to nontraditional Benedict and why? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of A Modern Way to Eat.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to include the correct amount of avocado in the recipe. 

 

By the Book: Shrimp, Mango, Scallions and Chile Salad from Salad Love

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

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David Bez’s photo-driven salad blog, Salad Pride, and his newly published book Salad Love: 260 Crunchy, Savory and Filling Meals You Can Make Every Day, are the result of his yearlong project of creating a new salad for lunch every day. That’s a healthy endeavor of which we at Sauce heartily approve. In fact, last year, we embarked on a similar challenge, albeit only for 31 days.

Bez asserts in the introduction that the book is not a cookbook. “It won’t teach you how to cook,” he writes, instead describing Salad Love as “a collection of salad combinations.” The salads are grouped by season, which is helpful for those who cook in sync with Mother Nature. Also nice are the color photos of each recipe: there’s no guessing what your mélange is going to look like. Some readers may find the notations on each recipe that denote it as vegan, vegetarian, raw, pescatarian or omnivore (and adaptation suggestions) to be useful.

The day I worked with this book, it was a balmy 70 degrees outside, sunny and beautiful. I wanted something light and fresh that screamed springtime. Mangos are just coming into season, so Bez’s composition of mangoes and shrimp on a bed of greens fit my mood.

When composing a salad, Bez divides it into layers that include the base (often lettuce or hearty greens, but sometimes grains or pasta); raw vegetables and fruit; a protein; toppings like nuts, seeds, olives or dried fruit; fresh herbs; and a dressing. For this salad, mixed salad greens form the base layer. Mangoes offer a pop of tropical fruit flavor and color, shrimp lends protein and chew, and willowy cilantro adds citrus and pepper notes.

 

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The shrimp is where Salad Love’s non-cookbook character became evident. The recipe calls for a handful of cooked shrimp. Plain cooked shrimp tastes blah. I wanted bright flavor and a hint of heat, so I broke By the Book rules and let the shrimp marinade for nearly an hour in a bowl with fresh lime juice and crushed, dried ancho chiles. Much better.

A well-stocked pantry will have most of the ingredients needed to whisk the majority of dressings in Salad Love, including the one for this salad: sunflower oil, soy sauce or Thai fish sauce, salt, pepper and red chile flakes. I tried the dressing with soy sauce and with fish sauce, and ended up using equal amounts of both. I liked the anchovy flavor of the fish sauce, but as a backdrop, not a fish-flavored bomb. My taste-testers thoroughly enjoyed their salad bowls; there wasn’t a green leaf, mango cube or shrimp remaining.

Salad Love didn’t teach me anything new about salads. However, the book is a hefty collection of nutritious, filling options that can serve as inspiration for someone stuck in a salad rut.

 

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Shrimp, Mango, Scallions and Chile
1 serving

For the salad, assemble:
2.5 oz. mixed salad greens
1 small mango, cubed
Handful cooked shrimp
2 scallions, sliced
Handful fresh cilantro leaves

For the dressing, mix:
1 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1 tsp. light soy sauce (or Thai fish sauce)
Pinch salt and pepper
Pinch dried red pepper flakes

Raw alternative: Replace the shrimp with a handful of cashews; and soy sauce with lemon juice in the dressing.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

What’s the most innovative salad you’ve ever created? Tell us about it for a chance to win a copy of Salad Love.

 

 

By the Book: Warm Pear Crumble

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

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I love cooking seasonally. I refuse to buy zucchinis and tomatoes in winter, and I question the logic behind serving butternut squash risotto in June. But about this time each year, I find my resolve weakening. I’m desperate for something green and raw, and the thought of roasting one more carrot or sweet potato is enough to send me into fits. Are supermarket summer squashes imported from South America really so bad?

So when Veronica Bosgraaf’s Pure Food: Eat Clean with Seasonal, Plant-Based Recipes crossed my desk, I immediately flipped to her March recipes. Bosgraaf, who rose to fame with her line of organic snack bars, penned this cookbook to make simple, season-driven vegetarian meals using whole, unprocessed ingredients. Each chapter is dedicated to a month of produce, and as a fellow Midwesterner (she lives in Michigan), I imagine Bosgraaf can relate to my longing for springtime seasonality.

 

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Recipes for March still include those winter ingredients (oranges, carrots, cabbage, potatoes) and while she isn’t breaking any new ground with her dishes (curried carrot soup, pickled vegetables) they are definitely welcome respite from roasted everything. I chose to test Warm Pear Crumble, arguing that if we must eat winter produce, I wanted it paired with ice cream.

 

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Sauce intern Tori Sgarro had no trouble following Bosgraaf’s clear, simple instructions, though the recipe took nearly two hours after all the prep work and baking time. As with all crumble recipes, Team Sauce agreed that we wanted double the buttery, almond-oat topping. Admittedly that cuts down the health factor, but isn’t the buttery crust the real reason people make crumbles in the first place? The pear filling, while plentiful, fell flat; a pinch of salt did wonders to enhance the fruit flavor, and next time I’ll add depth with a bit of cinnamon or grated nutmeg. We served our crumble with a scoop of Serendipity’s Big O Ginger ice cream, which played nicely with the fresh ginger and added necessary richness.

 

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Warm Pear Crumble
4 to 6 servings

¼ cup (½ stick) plus 2 tsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp. grated fresh ginger
6 firm, ripe Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
¼ cup rolled oats
½ cup almond meal
2 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
1/8 tsp. sea salt

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter and set aside.
• In a large bowl, combine the honey, tapioca starch, lemon juic, and ginger. Add the pears and toss to coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover loosely with foil. Bake until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.
• Meanwhile, put the oats in a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the almond meal, sugar and salt. Add the remaining ¼ cup butter and, using a fork, blend in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
• Remove the foil from the baking dish and sprinkle the crumble topping over the pears. Return the pan to the oven and cook until the top is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
• Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Reprinted with permission from Clarkson Potter Publishers

How do you get creative with winter produce in the last days before spring vegetables finally arrive? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win a copy of Pure Food.

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