Monday, December 21, 2009

Go ahead honey its gluten free: Chewy ginger chocolate cookies

The story of these cookies start with playing cards at a friend's. Okay, not really cards, but a scrabble word play poker game Ben picked up at the store a while back, on a whim.

Dare I risk digressing by mentioning I am not a card-game or board-game kind of gal, though once I begin to play, I surprise myself by actually enjoying it. I inexplicably defy Marti Seligman and his learning theory of punishment and rewards when it comes to card and board games....

But what were you saying about the cookies, you ask? Oh yes, where was I? Ben and I brought this card game over to a friend's a few weeks ago and while we drank red wine, talked and joked, and, while we played our hands, Erin watched from the kitchen.

When things really started to heat up and we began betting with Lego bricks (oh yeah, we were living dangerously that night), Erin emerged from the kitchen with a plate of ginger chocolate cookies and sat down to join the game. They were not gluten free by any means, so I unfortunately could not tell you empirically how good they were, but according to the chorus of approving moans and groans, I can tell you they were pretty awesome. Ben ate one as 'research' so that he could let me know how my gluten free version (should I attempt one) compares to the gluten-filled version.

Now, how can I back down from a challenge like that? I took Erin's recipe and baked the gluten free version yesterday. Or, should I say, yesterday, I baked the best chewy ginger chocolate cookies ever.

Really, they are the best you will ever taste.

... I'll even bet you 6 Lego bricks on that one.

Happy holidays to you all!   This is my entry in this month's go ahead honey its gluten free round-up, hosted by Stephanie of Gluten Free by Nature with the theme of holiday cookies.  Be sure to check out her site at the end of the month for everyone's submissions!

Mmmm... just look at those delicious little crackles in the top of the cookies and the big sparkles of sugar :)

Chewy ginger chocolate chip cookies
These turn out wonderfully crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. You could use regular grain sugar to roll them in, instead of the Turbinado, but the large grain sugar really makes these amazing.  By the way, I am finding that quinoa flour really does the trick in keeping gluten free cookies tasting fresh after a number of days.  These are awesome right out of the oven and stay great on the counter or in the refrigerator for a number of days.

3/4 cup Sorghum flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon quinoa flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tablespoon ground cocoa (unsweetened)

1 stick butter
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp boiling water
7 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate in chips or chunks

1/4 cup Turbinado sugar (for rolling)

Sift together: flours, xanthan gum, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cocoa.

With a mixer beat butter and fresh ginger for about 4 minutes, add brown sugar until combined, then add molasses until combined

In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in boiling water.

Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking soda mixture,then remaining half of flour mixture.

Mix in chocolate; turn onto plastic wrap. Pat out to 1-inch thickness, seal with wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll each ball through a bowl of the turbinado sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets ( use parchement paper or spray with butter). Refrigerate baking sheets with cookies for about 10 minutes, then slide into oven and bake about 12-15 minutes.

Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Feta

If you haven’t already figured out how strange I am, the fact that I love Brussels sprouts might just be the bit of information you need.  I am well aware of most people’s disdain for them, and I accept that most would find my love for them at the very odd end of the spectrum. 

However, I am convinced those who dislike Brussels sprouts have never snapped them off the stalk, cut them into quarters, and roasted them in the oven with olive oil.

Most people’s experience with Brussels sprouts begins by opening the freezer door and cutting open a plastic bag.  No wonder they find these little, green, mini-cabbage-like veggies a turn-off.  No matter how you prepare frozen Brussels sprouts, they just don’t compare to cutting them up fresh and roasting them until the edges get just a bit crisp and the middles are tender. 

After indulging in far too much ham, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie this weekend, I threw together this simple little meal Sunday night, something I made up on the fly with things in our fridge that desperately needed using.  Miles Davis provided the background music as I chopped veggies and apples and tossed them into a baking dish with a little olive oil and a smattering of spices.  We sat down to a warm, satisfying plate of my vegetable-fruit creation and Ben and I agreed we needed to remember this one.

And, it just might convince even the staunchest non-Brussels-sprout fans that there is something to like.

Roasted Brussels sprouts with apples and feta
The amounts do not matter that much here, just cook as much as you are going to eat.  Even though I’m a big fan of Brussels sprouts, they do loose some of their luster as leftovers – growing a bit bitter.

What you need:
Brussels sprouts, quartered
One or two medium apples, diced
One or two handfuls of walnut or pecan pieces
Splash apple cider vinegar
Olive oil
Dash rosemary
1 tsp or so ground coriander
1 tsp or so sea salt
Feta cheese

Preheat your oven to 400F.  Line a baking dish with aluminum foil.  Use a dish that is large enough so that the veggies and apples are in a single layer as much as possible.

Toss your chopped veggies and apples into the baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add the splash of apple cider vinegar. Stir a bit to mix in the oil.

Sprinkle the spices and salt over the top, evenly.  Toss the walnut or pecan pieces evenly over the top. 

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until sprouts are soft and just beginning to brown. 

Divide among plates and top with a tablespoon or so crumbled feta cheese.