Thursday, February 27, 2014

Almond Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free)

If there is any one general cookie generalization, it's "everyone is a cookie monster at heart."  Cookie variations seems limitless.  These are a variation on my peanut butter cookie for a European friend who doesn't have an infinity for peanut butter.  I thought why not replace it with almonds.  More fancy, too.  These cookies are super easy to make and "paleo" with no grains or starches, but still has sugar.  I think these are even fancy enough for an Academy Awards party.  As a matter of fact, I put this batch in the freezer and will pull out on Sunday for an Oscars party I'll be attending.

Almond Butter Cookies:
  • almond butter, 1 cup (255 grams)
  • almond flour, blanched, 1/2 cup (70 grams)
  • brown sugar, 1/2 cup (110 grams)
  • cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon
  • vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
  • salt, 1/4 teaspoon
  • eggs, room temperature, 1 whole + 1 white
  • almonds, for garnish, about 30
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, using a wood or silicone spatula, mix together everything but the eggs.  Only mix just until everything comes together.  Do not over mix, or it will start to separate.  Now add in 1 whole egg and the 1 egg white.  Mix very gently until just until incorporated.  Again, do not over mix.
  3. On a sheet of parchment, using a portioner/scooper/spoon measure out about 1/2 - 3/4 ounce of dough.  Allow space between the cookies.  Gently squash with something flat like the bottom of a measurement cup.  Then push a single almond in the center.  Bake for about 14 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool on rack.  Makes about 2- 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on cookies.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing cookies to drool over:   

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Quinoa Oat Cookies
The Heritage Cook: Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies with Meyer Lemon Curd
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: French Palmiers
Weelicious: Homemade Oreo Cookies
Devour: Top 5 Chocolate Cookies
Taste With The Eyes: A Korean Sweet Treat - Hwa Jeon with Honey and Flower Petals
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies with Chocolate Ganache Filling
Red or Green: Chocolate, Almond and Ginger Cookies
Domesticate Me: Healthy Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Cherries and Sea Salt
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Rose and Cardamon Nankhatai (Eggless Indian Shortbread Cookies)
Virtually Homemade: Oatmeal Caramel Skillet cookie with Marshmallows and Chocolate
The Sensitive Epicure: Almond Butter Cookies (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Cookie Comfort

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Apple, Walnuts, and Thyme (GF)

The way I usually determine what recipe I'm going to develop is based on what I have on hand.  When I think of a well executed "gourmet" grilled cheese, I consider a complexity in textures and a simplicity in the melding of flavors.  Given these considerations I came up with cave aged Vermont cheddar cheese, pink lady apple, walnuts, and fresh thyme.  Really good, fresh, comforting...  This is one of my favorite flavor combinations.  I built the layers within the sandwich, and found that after grilling it on the stove top, placing it in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes melted it thoroughly and brought it all together.  In practical terms: I could squash it all together to eat it.  Scale this recipe accordingly to how many sandwiches you are going to make.

Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Apple, Walnuts, and Thyme (GF)
  • Udi's Whole Grain Gluten-Free Bread (or any of your favorite sandwich bread)
  • Cheddar cheese of your choice, cut into thin slices (I used aged Vermont cheddar)
  • Apple, cored and sliced into thin slices (leave the skin on)
  • Walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Thyme, fresh leaves with stems removed
  • Butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Place a pat of butter on 1 side of a slice of bread.  Place buttered side down in an oven safe skillet over low heat.  From there carefully build the sandwich: a layer of cheese, a layer of sliced apples, a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, and thyme.  I did two layer of apples, walnuts, and thyme, finishing with a layer of cheese so it all melts together and adheres the bread.  Finish with the other slice of bread and a pat of butter on top.  After about 3-5 minutes, carefully flip over the sandwich(es).  Lightly brown the other side.
  3. Place skillet with sandwich(es) in heated oven for about 10 minutes, or until all the cheese has melted.
  4. Remove from oven and squash with the backside of a spatula.  Transfer to a cutting board.  Allow to cool/set up for a couple of minutes before cutting.  Serve and eat immediately.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on comforting grilled cheese sandwiches.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing grilled cheese sandwiches to get your comforting creative juices going:  

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Lighted Up Croque Monsieur Grilled Cheese
Blue Apron Blog: The Tastiest Grilled Cheese Fillings
Weelicious: Grilled Cheese and Pickle Panini
Devour: Kelsey's Decadent Grilled Cheese
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Inside Out Grilled Strawberry and Cheese Sandwiches
Daily*Dishin: Grilled Pimento Cheese with Instant Pickles
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pork Stew in Port Wine Sauce with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Red or Green: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Three Pepper Cheese, Grilled Onions and Pickled Jalapenos
Dishing With Divya: Egg and Mushroom Cheese Sandwich
Domesticate Me: Barbecue Chicken Grilled Cheese
Taste With The Eyes: Bulgogi Panino with Kimchi, Cheddar and Ssamjang Mayo
Virtually Homemade: Creamy Roasted Tomato and Basil Grilled Cheese with Bacon
The Sensitive Epicure: Grilled Cheddar Cheese Sandwich with Apple, Walnuts and Thyme (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: 10 Grown-Up Grilled Cheeses

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nutella Panna Cotta

This week's blog them is "comforting Valentine's desserts."  My mind automatically goes to chocolate, then to panna cotta, then figuring out how I can incorporate Nutella into it.  Normal progression of a normal person's thought pattern, right?  I wanted to keep to the traditional panna cotta recipe, using sour cream to finish it, giving it a delicate brightness.  I figured that could serve Nutella well.  And it does.  This recipe turned out to be very simplistic in its measurements and minimal in it ingredients (no added sugar needed!), even though it looks super-fancy.  Just the plain Nutella panna cotta is plain brown.  I put a rich Nutella and butter "chocolate button" on top with a sprinkling of chopped toasted hazelnuts for aesthetic and to add textural and flavor intensity.  How I finished it reminds me of an old childhood favorite candy, Toffifany.  (I found an old 1978 Toffifany commercial, "not too good for YOU!")  Hopefully, this dessert works well to win the heart of a Valentine you have in mind.

Nutella Panna Cotta
  • gelatin, unflavored powder, 1 teaspoon
  • water, cold, 1 tablespoon
  • cream, 1 cup
  • Nutella, 1/2 cup (and additional 1/2 cup reserved)
  • salt, pinch
  • vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
  • sour cream, 4 ounces (1/2 cup)
  • butter, 2 tablespoons
  • hazelnuts, 2 tablespoons, toasted and chopped
  1. In a very small bowl, measure out the gelatin.  Then slowly and gently put the cold water on top.  Allow to sit and "bloom" the gelatin for at least 10 minutes.
  2. In a medium/smallish saucepan, measure and dump in 1 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of Nutella.  Over low/medium heat, gently whisk continuously.  Once it heats up over about 5 minutes, it should become homogenous.  At this point, turn of the heat.  Do not allow to boil.  Add in the bloomed gelatin and whisk until it dissolves completely.  Add in the pinch of salt and vanilla.  Stir well.
  3.  In a separate medium mixing bowl, measure in the 1/2 cup sour cream.  Slowly add in the heated Nutella/cream/gelatin mixture while whisking well.  Make sure it is smooth and no tiny lumps of sour cream.  Pour and divide into 4 tiny bowls (I like the kids IKEA set), ramekins, tea cups, etc...  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  4. Over very low heat in a tiny sauce pan, melt together the 1/2 cup Nutella with the 2 tablespoons butter with constant stirring.  Once it gets liquid, cut the heat or it will get weird and clumpy.  Immediately spoon 1-2 teaspoons of this molten goodness on the set up panna cottas and gently spread into a chocolate button.  Repeat for all 4 portions.  Place a tiny pile of the chopped, toasted hazelnuts on top of the chocolate button.  Serve immediately, or keep in fridge until ready for serving.  Makes 4 servings.  Enjoy!
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on comforting Valentine's desserts.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other awesome desserts to woo your Valentine with:  

Food for 7 Stages of Life: S'mores on a Stick
Tasting With The Eyes: Puff au Chocolat avec Fraises, Basilic, Fleur de Sel