Posts Tagged cinnamon

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks – and a Book Review!

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

Many (many) months ago, I was asked by Owlkids to review a new book they were publishing … and to be honest, I’m not exactly a pro at reviews of any sort. And clearly not a timely person when it comes to caring for a wee baby … However, the book, Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking written by Sarah Elton and beautifully illustrated by Jeff Kulak, is definitely worth recommending, and I have been attempting time-and-time again to write this post. Writing reviews won’t be a common occurrence on the blog (and I have not been compensated financially by Owlkids; I was only given an advance copy of the book), but if I’m asked to review something that I legitimately like, and I truly believe you may too, then I will be passing on my raving thoughts.

Starting From Scratch

Although Starting From Scratch is targeted at children who are starting to be curious about food – where it comes from, how to cook it, etc. – I would say it is a great book for young adults who were never previously educated on cooking or food. The writing style is easy for young readers to understand, yet it’s not so juvenile that I didn’t enjoy reading through the entire book. Starting From Scratch covers everything from the science of taste (did you know that artichokes make sweet food taste sweeter?); to how differently people eat around the globe (there is an amazing section mapping out different chicken dishes eaten in various countries); to how “recipes” are developed (an education on how baking, especially, is all math or ratios); through to setting up a kitchen with the essential tools and of course, food and cooking safety. The book takes you on a journey that leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of where your food comes from, why and how you perceive food tastes the way it does, and ultimately, the importance of preparing as much of your food from scratch (would you have guessed that from the title??).

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

I believe that one of the most important things we can teach our children and ourselves is to be conscious about the food we eat and about the enjoyment and pride that comes in cooking that food yourself. My brother and I were lucky to be raised by parents who encouraged us to always try at least one bite of everything; and gave us each the duty to prepare 1-2 dinners a week as part of our “chores.” This has instilled the deepest appreciation for food in both of us – now we fight about who gets the offal at Thanksgiving dinner over any of the other meat; and we scour the depths of the internet, cook books, grocery stores and markets for inspiration for what to cook and eat next. In the words of Anthony Bourdain: “it is a good and noble thing to cook well.” And while Starting From Scratch only contains a few basic recipes at the end, it would assist any child with learning how to sustain themselves with real food rather than resorting to take out and frozen dinners all the time. Whether you know everything about food and cooking, or you don’t have a clue about how to feed yourself, this book would make an excellent addition to your child’s (or a child you love) library.

Now how about a kid-friendly recipe to wash down that review?

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks | Gorging George

Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks

Clearly, you can save some time and skip the “sticks” part of this recipe. However, cutting your bread into the sticks makes it a little more fun for kids and, to be completely honest, helps reduce the amount you consume since you feel like you’re eating so much more. Let the littles do as much as you, and they, are comfortable with – maybe it’s simply dipping the sticks in the batter; or maybe you’re up for letting them flip the sticks while they are in the hot pan. Either way, get them involved in the kitchen as much as possible and you’re helping pave the way to a lifetime of cooking and eating happiness. 

8 slices thick (Texas-style) bread
butter (to cook the toast in; about 2-4 Tbsp)
4 eggs
1/4 cup half & half cream
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt

Using a serrated knife, cut the toast into 4 even slices vertically and set aside. Prepare the french toast batter by whisking together the remaining ingredients (eggs through salt) in a large dish. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a non-stick pan or griddle. Working in 2 – 4 batches (depending on the size of your pan – you don’t want to crowd the pan), dunk the bread sticks into the batter, allow the excess to drip off and then place into pan with melted butter. Cook the sticks on one side until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes), then flip and cook on the other side until golden. Continue with remaining batches of bread (melting an additional Tbsp of butter in between each batch). Serve warm with or without maple syrup.

Makes 32 sticks.

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Apple Pie Ice Cream

apple pie ice cream

This past Christmas, my parents gifted me an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer. I’ve been coveting this for quite some time; but ever since becoming gluten free, I’ve wanted one even more. Many commercially produced ice creams contain gluten as fillers. Granted, the tastiest (and typically the most expensive) ice creams only contain cream, eggs, sugar, and flavourings; but I still wanted the ice cream maker so that I could experiment with flavours that I can’t find at the grocery store.

Naturally, I had to test the new kitchen gadget by making a simple, creamy chocolate ice cream. What better way to ensure the ice cream maker works than by making this classic? I used a recipe by Alton Brown if you’re interested in trying it out. I shared the large batch with my family on New Years Day, and it was a hit. Thank you Alton.

After savouring the creaminess of home made ice cream (I assure you, there is nothing like it), I was hooked. Like an addict, I was itching to try more. However, it’s been a ridiculously cold winter up here in Canada’s North. I know that one would expect cold in the North; but this one has been exceptionally frigid. Which means that while I’ve been craving the process of making hundreds of different ice creams; the thought of putting something frozen in my mouth is not desirable. Then one night, a friend was talking about apple pie, and I began dreaming about this tasty dessert and how much I’ve missed it since going gluten free. I had an “A-Ha” moment, and decided I would attempt to bring the flavours I love from apple pie – buttery, cooked apples; cinnamon; brown sugar – together into a vanilla-based ice cream. And even though it was cold out, this ice cream was a perfect dessert to be savoured in winter.

Apple Pie Ice Cream

When I was testing this recipe, I had originally planned on making a small amount of gluten free pie crust to crumble up into the ice cream mixture. However, I was impatient, and didn’t allow my halved crust recipe to cool in the fridge – resulting in a melted, burnt mass of flours and butter. But, when Kyle & I tried the ice cream without the crusty addition, we both felt it wasn’t missing. I used brown sugar, cinnamon, and a good vanilla in the base of ice cream, which gave enough depth of flavour to the ice cream that it felt like the perfect “crust” for the apple mixture. Heaven. 

1 Tbsp butter
3 cups apples, chopped & peeled (about 2-3 apples)
1 tsp cinnamon, divided
1 cup + 1 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
3 cups half & half cream
1 cup heavy cream (also called whipping cream)
8 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla paste (or you can use a high quality vanilla extract)

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the apples, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp of brown sugar. Lightly saute for 1 minute, letting the sugar dissolve into the apple mixture. Pour over the 1/4 cup of water, and allow the mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the apples become soft. Pour the apple mixture into a food processor or blender, and process until the mixture resembles a chunky apple sauce. Cover and refrigerate the mixture.

Pour the half & half and heavy cream into a medium saucepan. Heat the creams over medium-high heat until they come to a simmer, but not boiling – stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the cream mix to cool slightly. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and 1 cup of brown sugar into  the bowl of a mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat together the eggs and sugar until the sugar has dissolved into the eggs and the mixture begins to look frothy – about 1-2 minutes.

Slowly add about 1/3 of the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture – you want to temper the eggs, not scramble them, so be sure to stir in a small amount at a time. Once you have added about a 1/3 of the cream mixture to the eggs, pour in the egg and cream mixture into the saucepan with the remaining cream, stirring to ensure everything is mixed thoroughly. Return the pan to the stove, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cream comes to 170-175ºF; remove from the heat. If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can judge when the ice cream base is ready to pull from the stove when small bubbles start to form around the edge of the mixture and when the cream coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Pour the cream base into a large bowl. Stir together 2 tsp of vanilla paste and 1/2 a tsp of cinnamon. Add this mixture the the cream base, stirring thoroughly so it’s incorporated into the entire mix. Cover and chill the ice cream base for at least 8 hours – I prefer overnight.

Once your ice cream base and apple mix is thoroughly chilled, pour the ice cream base into the ice cream maker and process according the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually takes 30-35 minutes. During the last 2 minutes of processing time, add the apple mixture to the ice cream base. Remove the mixture to a freezer save container, and allow to freeze for another 3-4 hours to harden.

Serve in a bowl or with your favourite gluten free cones.

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Apple & Persimmon Crisp

apple & persimmon crisp

After my post from a few weeks ago – where I realized I had a dreadfully small showing on the “Soups/Stews” section of the Recipe Index – I decided to peruse through the rest of the index in order to ascertain where else I could beef up the list. Baking, Cookies, & Desserts all had weak showings; not surprising, as I am not that fond of baking, and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. However, with Kyle being a Cookie Monster, I was slightly taken aback that there weren’t more cookie recipes on the site – I do make him cookies from time-to-time; I swear I’m a good wife like that. I was surprised that the Drinks section was also lacking though; I love making up tasty new smoothies in the morning and cocktails at night .. although my cocktails usually entail: bourbon, ice, splash of grapefruit juice, stir, drink. Hmm…not much of a recipe there.

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I figured it was about time time I begin doing all that gluten free baking I said I was going to do. I had told myself, and family and friends, that I would do lots of experimenting with gluten free flours, especially over the winter, when heating the oven is welcome. But this hasn’t happened much. Even the small amount of baking that I did over Christmas was with wheat flour – tiny gifts given to people who can consume gluten without getting sick. So this weekend, I eased into the gluten free baking pool. After reading my copy of The Gluten Free Girl and  the Chef by Shauna James Ahern & Daniel Ahern, I knew I had to make the crisp recipe they shared. While their crisp (which they call a crumble) was blanketed over juicy peaches and blackberries, I was craving apples in mine; a throwback to crisps I ate growing up – and missed. And since I have recently become addicted to juicy, candy-like persimmons, I added a few of them to my crisp as well. Oh happy days.

Gluten Free Apple & Persimmon Crisp

Adapted from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef by Shauna James Ahern & Daniel Ahern

The crumble/crisp topping recipe is nearly the exact one that Shauna and Daniel share in their book. However, I did find that it made a lot of topping. More than was necessary. Perhaps this was because I weighed my ingredients? I’m not sure. Either way, you could either scale back or just save some of the topping in an airtight container in the fridge; that way you can bake up a single-serve crisp when the mood strikes you. The ingredient list may seem daunting, but that’s just the case when it comes to gluten free baking – it’s not as simple as 1 1/2 cups of flour. You need to find the right mix of flours (some starchy, some with lots of protein, some more sweet or savory than others) for each dish that you’re making. But trust me, the effort is worth it. Don’t just buy an all purpose gluten free flour mix if you can help it. 

Crisp Topping
1/4 cup sorghum flour (32g)
1/4 cup tapioca flour (30g)
1/4 cup potato starch (48g)
1/4 cup sweet rice flour (51g)
1/4 cup almond flour (28g)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces and frozen
1/4 cup sour cream

Filling
3 firm apples
5 ripe persimmons
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 lemon, juice & zest
2 tsp cornstarch

Yogurt Topping
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp honey
pinch of ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Combine all the flours (sorghum through almond) in a large bowl – whisk together to get rid of any lumps and to thoroughly mix them. Add the sugar, salt and cinnamon to the flour mixture and whisk again to combine. Grate the flour over the flour mix, then stir into the mix. Add the sour cream and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture resembles damp breadcrumbs.

Core the apples and slice them into semi-thin slices (I’m not getting technical here, because you can make the slices as thick or thin as you like, although don’t cut them too thick, or your apples won’t cook thoroughly) – place the slices into a large bowl. I chose not to peel the apples as I had some gorgeous looking honeycrisps, and I wanted to keep their pinkish hue in the crisp. Peel the persimmons and cut into 1/2 inch cubes; put in the bowl with the apples slices. Combine the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and cornstarch in a small bowl; pour this mixture over the fruit, then stir to combine.

Pour the fruit mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. Sprinkle the crisp topping over the fruit. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the crisp topping is starting to brown and the fruit is bubbling. Remove the crisp from the oven, and allow to cool while you prepare the yogurt topping.

Combine the yogurt, honey, and cardamon together in a small bowl. While the crisp is still warm, scoop onto individual plates, and drizzle each serving with some of the yogurt mixture.

Serve 1 – 8, depending on how generous you’re feeling.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Maple Cream Cheese Icing

I promised in my last post that I would share this gluten free Pumpkin Cake with you; and I’m finally getting down to writing it out! We’re just wrapping up a great long weekend: Kyle’s dad, step-mom and sister made the trip up north for 3 days to visit and check out our new place. It was awesome having them here in town, even though the visit was too short. And we realized after dropping them off that the last time we saw them was when Kyle’s sister was graduating back in MAY! Yikes. Far too long between visits. Here’s hoping we can see them well before another 6 months pass by.

While Kyle’s family were visiting, I decided to make this cake again. My parents were coming over for dinner, plus Kyle’s dad’s birthday just happened to pass; so it was a perfect opportunity for everyone to eat cake! The cake was originally created when Robin and I were talking about our Gluten Free Holiday Meal. Since the original plan was a Thanksgiving meal, it seemed only fitting to make a pumpkin-ish dessert. Pumpkin Pie seems to be the usual dish that ends a Thanksgiving meal; but the thought of a crustless pie or gluten free crust seemed uninspired. I had thought that maybe a mousse or parfait may be more fun to add the the spread. Robin threw in the idea of using pumpkin cake instead of mousse in a parfait; and so the original plan was to make a Pumpkin Parfait with pumpkin cake, a bourbon peach compote, pecan whipped cream and topped with toasted pecans.

I scoured the internet for pumpkin cakes that were gluten free. But I didn’t find anything that appealed to me in terms of the flours used. And so, I researched some of the methods in which people create gluten free cakes; mostly from reading gluten free blogs such as elana’s pantry, or gluten free cookbooks like Gluten Free Girl & the Chef. Following this I created my own cake. And I’ve got to say that I felt a little protective about it. When Robin arrived on our cookday, I sheepishly admitted that I no longer wanted to chop up my creation into bits to add to pretty little glasses topped with cream and compote. I wanted to showcase it. I wanted to slather it in the cream cheese frosting I whipped up; the one I added a hit of bourbon and a touch of maple syrup to. I wanted to devour it in all it’s pristine glory. But I was open to adding Robin’s bourbon peach compote between the cake layers. And it was magnificent.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake with Bourbon Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Note: When I first made this cake, I added Chef Robin Wasicuna’s Bourbon Peach Compote between the layers of cake. Then Robin steeped toasted pecans in cream over a low heat, and strained the cream so he was left with a smooth pecan cream. After allowing the cream to cool, he attempted to make pecan whipped cream; however, the proteins in the pecans did not allow the cream to become “whipped.” But with the added icing sugar and vanilla, the cream was still delicious – so we added it to the bottom of the plates and placed the cut pieces of cake on top of the cream. It was extremely tasty; but not necessary. Go ahead and give it a whirl if you’re so inclined. This weekend, I made this cake again; but left the bourbon peach compote and the pecan cream out. It was still delicious, so feel free to make it either way. 

Cake
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup almond flour/meal
1 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 cups brown sugar, not “packed”
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups pureed pumpkin, canned or fresh
2 tsp vanilla

Bourbon Maple Cream Cheese Icing
8 oz package cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp bourbon
2 cups icing sugar

Bourbon Peach Compote (optional – see recipe below)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

To Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F or if you’re using dark “non-stick” baking pan preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare two 9″ round cake pans by lining both with parchment paper and spraying with cooking spray.

Place all 11 dry ingredients (sorghum flour to salt) in a medium bowl. Whisk together to combine thoroughly.

In another mixing bowl, beat together the 4 eggs until they become frothy. Add the brown sugar, and beat again until the sugar and egg mixture is smooth. Add the oil, pumpkin, vanilla and beat again to combine. With the mixer on, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat this to combine for 1-2 minutes (there is not as much fear with over-mixing gluten-free cakes…because – clearly – there are no glutens to that will develop).

Even pour the batter between the two cake pans. Bake in the oven 30-35 minutes, or until firm and a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly in the pan for 15-20 minutes. Then remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

To Make the Icing: In a mixer, beat together the cream cheese and icing until combined and smooth. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and bourbon to the cream cheese mixture and beat again until incorporated. With the mixer on (low or medium/low) slowly add the icing sugar until the icing is smooth. Transfer the icing to a dish and allow to firm up in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

To Prepare the Cake: Place one cake layer onto your serving tray. Either top it with 1/4 cup of the Bourbon Peach Compote (recipe below) or with 2/3 – 1/2 cup of the Cream Cheese Icing. Place the other cake layer on top of the compote/icing layer. Ice the entire cake with the Cream Cheese Icing. Then top with the toasted pecans. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Bourbon Peach Compote

Recipe provided by Chef Robin Wasicuna

Note: this will make much more compote than you require for the cake. However, you can use this in many dessert applications. And Chef Robin has even been known to add it to some delicious savory sandwiches. 

12 peaches, pitted and chopped
1 cup Knob Creek Bourbon (specifically this brand for the strong bourbon taste)
2 cups sugar

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Place over a medium heat and cook until everything is broken down. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store  in the fridge for 2 weeks. You can also freeze this in small batches to store for later use.

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