Summertime Lime

It's finally starting to feel like summer here in Fairbanks. For me the flavor of summer is lime; limeade, mojitos, margaritas... any lime cocktail really. Turns out you can also make killer cupcakes with limes (not surprising at all.) Check it out:

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Summertime Lime Cupcakes

THE CAKE: 

1 1/4 cups cake flour (or gluten free flour blend of your choice)

*my flour blend of choice is: 50% brown rice flour, 25% tapioca starch and 25% potato flour. 

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)

1/2 cup buttermilk

(or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice- add acid to the milk then set aside for 5 minutes before using)

zest and juice from two limes  

 

Preheat your oven to 350•F. In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients. In a separate vessel,  combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, lime juice and zest. Stir or whisk until the mixture is mostly homogenous. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients, stir until smooth. if you are using wheat flour be sure not to over-mix; you will activate the gluten and have very dense, tough cupcakes. Prepare cupcake tin with papers or grease.

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FROSTING! 

1/2 cup butter (room temp) 

24 oz cream cheese (room temp) 

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

zest and juice of 2 limes

food dye if desired

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I recommend using an ice cream scoop to dose the batter into the papers; that way you will get consistently sized cupcakes. Makes roughly 16 standard sized cupcakes or 56 mini ones. Bake at 350 until the edges are golden-brown, 12 minutes-ish. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

 

 

Cream together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Turn the mixer to low, slowly add the lime juice, zest and food dye. Once the juice has been incorporated, slowly add the powdered sugar. Once the sugar has mostly mixed in, turn up the mixer speed to high and whip until fluffy. Scrape the mixing bowl as needed. You can either spread the frosting on the cupcakes or use a piping bag (always my choice.) Garnish with a thin slice of lime and some freshly grated zest. Voila!

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GF Brownies

Last week I hinted at chocolate things baking, that I couldn't wait to share. . . but then I waited. . .

There are two reasons for this: 1.) I was sick, I had a head-cold that lasted WAAAAAYYY too long, and 2.) I wasn't in love with the recipe (which didn't stop me from consuming them, but that's not the point). So I did some searching and I did some tinkering and came up with a brownie recipe that is just as good, dare I say better? than the Ghirardelli boxed brownie mix.

I scored big time at Christmas this year; my husband gave me a box of treasures from Penzey's Spices. One of the treasures was some really fantastic cocoa. Everyone likes chocolate--if you say you don't, you're a dirty rotten liar!--ahem. . . pardon my outburst. . . I love chocolate, even cheap chocolate, but good chocolate is a real thing of beauty. Living in Alaska generally means very limited choices, so Hershey's cocoa is usually as good as it gets. I'm not sure I can go back to Hershey's. This Penzey's stuff is amazing. I want to say orgasmic, but that seems vulgar, and really this is pure beauty.

The recipe I tried before was adapted from Alton Brown. It really was good, but it just didn't have the texture I was looking for. I like brownies to have a little bit of tooth to them. His brownies are rich and heavy, and moist, but no chew. I perused the interwebs and a few of my home cookbooks until I stumbled on a recipe that had very similar ingredients, but slightly different ratios and techniques. So here you go:

Gluten Free Brownies

200 g (1 1/2 cup) flour (I used a 70% sweet white rice, 30% potato starch blend)
250 g (2 cups) granulated sugar
150 g (1 1/4 cup) cocoa powder (I used Penzey's Dutch Processed Cocoa)
5 g (1 tsp) baking powder
5 g (1 tsp) salt
3 g (1tsp) instant espresso powder
3 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
225 g (8 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9x13" glass pan. You can use a smaller pan, but be prepared to increase the baking time. Melt your butter and set it aside to cool. Crack open the eggs into a small bowl, whisk them together and then add the vanilla extract. In a large bowl: measure out your dry ingredients. You may want to sift the cocoa to get out any lumps. Whisk together your dry ingredients and then add the butter and eggs. With a spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. If you are using wheat-flour be careful not to over mix, over mixing makes for very tough brownies. The batter will be very thick, carefully scoop it into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula as needed. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Check for done-ness by sticking a toothpick into the middle. The toothpick should come out with  couple of crumbs, but not batter. When you judge the brownies to be done, pull them out and let them cool at least 5 minutes before cutting. May I suggest serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream? Enjoy!

Friendly Dinner

The holidays are finally over, don't get me wrong, holidays are great; full of family and food, but SOOOOO much food. We are now in food-recovery mode. We still need to eat, but we need some no fuss dinners that will help us get rid of holiday jelly-bellies, or at least not contribute further to said jelly-bellies. Even if you didn't over indulge this holiday season, I promise you will still enjoy this dinner. 

Hendrick's n' Tonic

Hendrick's n' Tonic

My amazing friend, Desi, came over to make dinner tonight. We started of with a nice cocktail: Hendrick's n' Tonic with cucumber and lime. And then made a "Greek" salad: baby spinach, chunks of English cucumber, tomato wedges, thin-sliced red onion, Kalamata olives, button mushrooms, feta cheese and a drizzle of Lighthouse Greek dressing. I can't tell you quantities for the veggies, we kind of just grabbed handfuls and cut them up. It worked out quite well.

The main course was, shall we call it "wine-y chicken?" I browned about a pound of boneless, skinless, chicken thighs in a my cast iron skillet (over medium-high heat), with little bacon fat (olive oil would have worked just as well). While the chicken browned I crushed about seven garlic cloves and browned the crushed garlic in a sauté pan with a little olive oil. I then added a cup of Sauvignon Blanc (from a box of "Black Box" that has probably been open for almost two months. . . note: you should remember to stand back when you add wine to a hot pan so you don't get alcohol fumes in the face!) two cups of chicken broth, and two tablespoons of country dijon mustard. I also tossed in a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a generous pinch of fresh ground black pepper. I brought that lovely mixture to a simmer and carefully transferred the chicken from the skillet to the sauté pan, also making sure to pour all of the juices into the sauté pan. At this point I carefully quartered some very cute button mushrooms, probably about two cups worth, and added them to the simmering liquid. I set the lid on the sauté pan with a little gap and reduced the heat to medium. You want steam to escape so that the sauce will reduce and concentrate the flavor.

I like to serve this kind of dish over rice or potatoes or polenta. Today my choice was rice, all you have to do is boil two cups of water, add a pinch of salt, a cup of rice, stir once, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and leave it alone for twenty minutes. EASY. Once we got the rice started and the chicken simmering away, Desi and I enjoyed a second cocktail and started into our salads. By the time the rice was done the sauce had reduced to a gravy-like consistency and smelled amazing. I served the chicken on top of rice with sauce poured over the top and garnished with a sprig of thyme. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The chicken was fall-apart tender and full of flavor. I have also made this dish with red wine and it was maybe even better, so use what you like to drink and I'm sure you'll love to eat it. 

I find myself wishing that the holidays could be more like impromptu cooking sessions with friends. No pressure, just good food and good conversation. I love holiday foods, but I feel like there's always pressure to stuff your face, and you never savor the food like you should. I think this year will be different. That's as close to a New Year's resolution as I'll get. . .

Posted 11th January 2013 by Sarah Posma