• Chocolate Crème Anglaise

    Hope all your Thanksgiving plans and menus are coming together. Every year we head to our friend’s place in Upstate New York. I can’t wait to get in the car, play some music, and escape the city. For a couple of days, we’ll blissfully cook, eat, and drink with some of our favorite people.

    I’m responsible for bringing the pies. Although Thanksgiving is all about the turkey, I think the sides and pies are the best thing on the menu. When it comes to pie, America is all about à la mode, but I’m determined to bring custard on top of more pies (and cakes!), and the crème de la crème of custard is crème anglaise. Nothing is better than a luxurious custard served hot or cold on a slice of warm pie. If there’s any crème anglaise leftover, make sure you serve yourself a cheeky bowl for breakfast.  

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    Makes: approximately 1¾ cups: enough for 6 to 8 side servings
    Preparation: 15 minutes 

     

    Ingredients

    1 ¾ cups (420ml) whole milk
    4 egg yolks
    ⅓ cup (65g) granulated sugar
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    1 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract
    ¼ cup (40g) semisweet chocolate chips

    Directions

    In a heavy saucepan over low heat, gently heat the milk until little bubbles start to appear around the edge of the pan; do not boil.

    Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch for a couple of minutes, until pale in color.

    Take the milk off the heat and slowly pour it onto the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Return all of the mixture to the saucepan. On low heat, continuously stir the custard using a wooden spoon. Slowly bring the custard’s temperature up to between 175° and 180°F. This should take approximately 8-10 minutes. When cooked, crème anglaise will look silky— not thick. Remove from the heat immediately so it doesn’t continue to cook.  

    Add the vanilla and chocolate chips, stirring until the chocolate melts.

    Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer.

    Variation

    Boozy Vanilla Crème Angliase: Omit the chocolate chips. Add 1 tablespoon of liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Amaretto.

    Tip

    Crème anglaise wants your full attention and love. It doesn’t take long to make so don’t get distracted. Instead, relax and enjoy the meditative continual stirring of the custard until it’s silky. What you’re looking for is what the French call nappè: when the custard coats the spoon, and if you run your finger over the back of it, a line should remain. By adding cornstarch it helps protect the egg yolk from overcooking and thicken the custard.

  • Lemon, Maple, Coconut Loaf Cake

    (Gluten and Refined Sugar Free) 

    There was a brief period when I was on a gluten, dairy, and sugar-free diet to try and bring down inflammation. Eek. It took a lot of discipline and planning to keep on that regime. It’s no surprise that one of the things I missed the most was a slice of simple cake. Since I found baking without the usual suspects really intimidating, I asked my good friend and James Beard–award-winning cook and author of At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, Amy Chaplin, for help. She created this recipe for me that has some of my favorite flavors all rolled into one: coconut, oats, lemon, and maple. It’s best baked in a loaf pan that’s been greased with a few drips of the melted coconut oil. Finish the cake by dusting maple sugar on top or just leave naked. It’s not a high riser or beauty queen but sliced warm and served with a cuppa, it's a nourishing treat. 

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    Makes one 9 by 5-inch loaf 

    Preparation: 25 minutes

    Ingredients 

    6 tablespoons (75g)(2.7oz) extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
    1 cup (80g)(3oz) dried shredded unsweetened coconut
    ½ cup (45g)(1.6oz) gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
    ¾ (75g)(2.6oz) oat flour
    ¼ cup (20g)(0.8oz) ground flax seeds
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 egg, at room temperature
    ½ cup (180ml) (6oz)pure Grade-A maple syrup
    Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    ¼ cup (60ml)(2oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice

     

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350/180. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with coconut oil, line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper, and grease the paper.

    In a food processor, grind the coconut and rolled oats until they are as fine as they can be. Add the oat flour, flax seeds, baking powder, and salt. Grind again until combined. Set aside.

    In a medium bowl, whisk the egg. Add the maple syrup, the coconut oil, lemon zest, and juice. Whisk until combined.

    Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk or stir until just combined.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when gently pressed and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the cake to gently release. Peel off the parchment paper from the sides. Invert the cake, peel off the bottom piece of parchment paper, and cool on a wire rack.

     Tip

    Flour with gluten adds structure to cakes. Many gluten-free flours and ground grains can be very absorbent. Amy taught me that when you’re using gluten-free alternatives, it’s best to mix a variety of gluten-free grains and flours to get a nice crumb and a nuanced flavor. As a result, the ingredients list for this cake may involve a trip to the store, but putting this cake together is simple.

     

     

  • The dead easy cookie recipe

    G'day. So apparently it was national cookie day yesterday. God bless America ! It's that time of the year, when you start playing Frank Sinatra singing Christmas songs, watch Elf with your kids, and crank out the cookies. Here's my go-to super simple, shortbread style vanilla cookie, that's essentially a blank canvas for however you want to dress them up. The recipe is from Brooklyn's One Girl Cookies Bakery,so it's foolproof and I've been using it for years. You may want to wrap the dough in the saran wrap, and leave it in the fridge for an hour to firm up but if you're feeling impatient, just dive right in and start rolling.

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    Ingredients

    2 ½ cups (325g)all-purpose flour
    ½ teaspoon baking powder
    ½  teaspoon salt
    10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

     

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

    2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.

    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture has begun to lighten in color and texture, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

    4. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

    5. At low speed, add dry mixture to the mixer and mix for 30 seconds. Take the mixing bowl off of the mixer and finish mixing the dough by hand with a rubber spatula.

    6. Make small rounds of dough that are about 1½ tablespoons in size. Roll into a ball. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, gently press each ball, leaving an inch between each cookie. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until lightly brown around the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack. Then gobble them up or gift them, your choice!

     photos: Nicole Franzen