What’s Cooking

March 9, 2015

Well, lately there has not been much cooking by me at all in the Crocker household as between a bout of pancreatitis and a combination of nasal and ear surgery I have been on strict bed-rest. In early February, however, I discovered a great recipe for gluten free banana bread that I wanted to share.

Making gluten free bread is such a challenge as my bread usually turns out dry and hard. My biscuits are so heavy they could be used as hockey pucks, and could inflict serious damage if dropped on a toe (ouch!). So while experimenting with gluten free bread recipes I decided to try my hand at banana bread as well. Chris couldn’t tell that the recipe I finally ended up with was gluten free! When he saw me eating a piece, he asked whether I was supposed to be eating it- and that, for me, means that the recipe was a big success! Enough talk, let’s get down to business and start baking (you for now, not me, as I am still supposed to rest this week!).

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups gluten free flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups mashed ripe bananas

3/4 cup honey plus 1 tablespoon

1/3 plus 1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or 1/2 cup walnuts

Method:

Preheat oven to 350˚F (or 175˚C for my British friends).  Line two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Create a well in the middle of the bowl and add eggs, bananas, honey, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Stir in optional chocolate chunks or walnuts.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pans. Bake in pre-heated oven for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Banana bread isn't complete with out butter. And lots of it!

Banana bread isn’t complete with out butter. And lots of it!

December 30, 2014

For those of you that did not know, I was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease in April, which means a strictly gluten free diet. The Canadian Celiac Association (celiac.ca) defines Celiac’s disease as “a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.”

Switching to a gluten free diet has been a challenge, especially as I am now living across the Atlantic ocean from my mom, who makes the best gluten free cookies and bread! I’ve had to experiment with gluten free dessert recipes as for me occasional sweet treats are a need, not a want. Lately I’ve been trying out some brownie recipes, but nothing was working out quite right. I finally tweaked several recipes to come up with the following recipe below, which Chris calls a “chocolate brownie cake” as it is not quite brownie but not quite cake. The result was a moist, chocolate dessert that we were both satisfied with…and that got polished off in one night!

Chocolate Brownie Cake

Ingredients:

¾ cup milk or dark chocolate chunks (depending on whether you prefer one or the other; I’ve tried and enjoyed the result of both!)

½ cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup gluten free flour

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking soda

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat oven to 350˚F (or 175˚C for my British friends). Line a 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

In a microwave melt the chocolate chunks and butter in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until combined.

Whisk the brown sugar, flour, salt and baking soda until combined in a mixing bowl. Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well with a spatula. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture, combining until batter becomes a thick and smooth.

Pour the batter into a parchment lined 8×8 inch square baking pan, spreading it out evenly with a spatula.

Bake in the centre of your preheated oven for 32-35 minutes or until set. Most often the top of the brownie cake will crack (although I have had one occasion where the top was smooth). Cool on a wire rack. Cut once cool and enjoy!

Tip: To add a bit of sweetness to the top dust with icing sugar for added contrast.

20141108_211917[1]

October 11, 2014

Apparently my track record of keeping this up-to-date is suffering! Lately I’ve been busy working, craft making (check out my new Craft Corner here), Bible Study, Saturdays out and church on Sundays.

One simple recipe that I have found for gluten-free cookies that go well with a cup of tea is from the Doves Farm website (check out the link to the cookies here). These Honey and Cinnamon Cookies have a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a bit of spice thanks to the cinnamon. For my Canadian friends I have converted the recipe below, although the measurements may seem odd as I could not always convert accurately to cups. A nice fall treat!

Honey and Cinnamon Cookies

Ingredients:

1.6 cups plain white gluten free flour (one and a half cups olus one tbsp. plus 2 tsp)

1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp honey

¼ cup white sugar

6 tbsp plus 2 tsp butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

Instructions:

  1. Mix flour, cinnamon and baking powder together in small mixing bowl
  2. Melt butter (on oven or in microwave)
  3. Mix honey, sugar, and melted butter
  4. Add flour mix to honey mix, sifting is optional
  5. Form cookies on lightly floured surface.
  6. Place on to greased baking sheets.
  7. Bake at 355 degrees f for between 16 to 18 minutes, or until slightly browned on bottom and springy on top.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.
  9. Enjoy with your favourite flavour of tea!

20140903_075201[1]

September 13, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here! The last several weeks have been busy with starting work full-time as a Nursery Nurse (Early Childhood Educator for my Canadian friends) in a Nursery School in Bristol, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our new nephew, and numerous other activities! In the midst of all that  has been going on I have tried out some new recipes, which I hope to post over the next several weeks.

Today’s recipe is an interesting one. It is a popular condiment in the UK, and one that I had not tried before travelling here- chutney. Chutney is classified in the Oxford Dictionary as a “spicy condiment of Indian origin, made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar” and on Wikipedia as “a family of condiments associated with South Asian cuisine made from a highly variable mixture of spices, vegetables, or fruit”. Chutney has many uses and is a flavourful addition as a glaze or dipping sauce on meat, cheese, curries, or as a spread for sandwiches.

I had freshly picked plums on my counter (thanks Chris!) that needed to be eaten (which he would have gladly done) or used up. As I could not go for a walk with due to my recently sprained ankle I decided to spend some time in the kitchen and use them up the plums. I had recently seen a yummy looking recipe for peach chutney on the Canadian Living website, but unfortunately I did not have most of the required ingredients so I searched some more. I found a few recipes of interest, but nothing for plums that looked specifically amazing. I decided in the end to create my own recipe using the ingredients I had on hand. Here is the recipe and the end result:

Spiced Plum Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cups (500 mL) diced white onions
  • 1 tsp each ground ginger, cinnamon and salt
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 4 cups (1L) plums, boiled and pitted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Preparation:

Wash plums. Bring to a boil in large Dutch oven at moderate heat with just enough water to prevent sticking. Simmer until the plums are cooked. Remove from heat. Use a hand mixer to break up all the plums on low speed. With a slotted spoon, skim the pits out of the mixture. Continue until all the pits are out of the mixture, then strain plums through sieve to remove excess water. Put aside.

Heat oil over medium heat in large Dutch oven; sauté onions, ginger, cinnamon, salt and chili pepper, stirring often, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Place the plums and sugar into the Dutch oven. Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once sugar has dissolved, bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the chutney for one hour, stirring occasionally. As the chutney thickens, stir more frequently to ensure that the sugar does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Spiced plum chutney cooling off.

Spiced plum chutney cooling off.

Remove chutney from heat and cool for 1 hour. Fill the chutney into sterilized glass jars and store in the refrigerator. Should keep well for 4 to 6 weeks.

The end result- ready to be eaten!

The end result- ready to be eaten!

August 26, 2014

A New Day

It’s me again! The first week we were here I was craving some home baked goodness, so I found the “free from” (gluten and other allergen-free) baking section in our local grocery store and stocked my cupboards with baking ingredients. I also found the tiniest bag of chocolate chips I have ever seen!

Since I brought few cookbooks with me (one to be exact) I have really been missing my familiar collection from home, which included the Better Homes and Gardens Cookies and Candies cookbook from 1966. As providence would have it, I google searched Better Homes and Gardens Oatmeal Cookies and this blog with a recipe from the 1962 Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook came up: http://www.jenniferadamsdesignblog.com/2009/02/cooking-tips-old-cookbooks-and-oatmeal.html

This recipe is almost exactly the same as my recipe from the 1966 edition, so with a few bakingtweaks I was baking my first batch of cookies in my new kitchen. Instead of regular flour (since I am allergic) I used Doves Farm Gluten-free plain white flour blend (check out their website, which also has great recipes here). Twenty minutes later I had my first batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies ready to be eaten.

Since we have now been blessed with an apartment sized freezer I will be baking a batch today to be able to freeze and enjoy in the weeks to come.  Here is the yummy result of my batch from three weeks ago (with a few missing!) and the recipe that I used below. Wishing you all happy baking!cookiesOatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 ¾ cup sifted all-purpose flour (I used Doves Farm Gluten-free plain white flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (Can substitute for raisins, walnuts, etc).

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Cream together butter, brown sugar, and eggs till light and fluffy. Stir in buttermilk. Sift together dry ingredients; stir into creamed mixture. Stir in rolled oats and chocolate chips. Drop from tablespoon 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) about 8 minutes. Cool slightly; remove from pan. Makes about 5 dozen.

August 12, 2014

The question then, since I have no Canadian cookbooks with me, was to find a recipe. As a good Canadian should, I turned to Canadian Living for a recipe online. What I found was a recipe for a Maple Apple and Blueberry Crisp. Since we didn’t have any blueberries on hand, but had been blackberry picking last week (or “brambling” as they call it here) I tweaked the recipe, as all good cooks should, and added blackberries instead.

After an hour and a half journey searching three different grocery stores Chris found me some pure Canadian maple syrup! The result was a delicious Maple Blackberry Apple Crisp, which we thoroughly enjoyed. See the recipe below, adapted by me and originally from the Canadian Living website (http://www.canadianliving.com/) for a mouth-wateringly good summer dessert:

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups (1.5 L) sliced peeled apples
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar (I substituted 1/4 cup honey)
  • 2 tbsp. (30 mL) all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free flour)
  • 1 tbsp. (15 mL) lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour (again, used gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. (30 mL) butter, melted

Preparation: In large, bowl, toss together apples, blueberries, granulated sugar, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon; spread in 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish.

 Topping: In bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, rolled oats and cinnamon. Pour in maple syrup and butter; toss until moistened. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 1 hour or until golden and fruit is fork-tender. Let cool on rack for 15 minutes.

3 Responses to What’s Cooking

  1. Marlene says:

    Hi Rebekah, I have never made chutney before, and I don’t think I have ever eaten it, but your recipe looks good. What kind of plums did you use? How many jars did it make? Waiting to see what you are making next. Hope your ankle is healing. You are often on my mind. Blessings

    • Hi Marlene,
      I used small purple plums that Chris picked from some plum trees in our community garden. This recipe made two medium sized canning jars full, so if you want a lot of chutney I would double or triple the recipe. My ankle is healing well, too! Hoping to add some new things here today. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated by us both!
      Love, Rebekah

  2. Hi Rebekah, Wayne here. Thought I’d catch up on things with you and Chris. Sounds as though you are settling in well. Does that make you Bristolians or Bristolites? Hope all is well. From an earlier post, I gather you hurt your ankle. I hope that’s getting better. No fun going thru your day on an ankle that hurts. Not much new here, except that my daughter and her family were visiting. It was my first time meeting my granddaughter Saoirse (they live just outside Galway in Ireland). I hope they get back soon-I didn’t get to spend enough time with them.
    I guess I’ll sign off, stay well and God bless you both.

    W.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s