Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Homemade Ranch Dressing


I love salads, but in recent years, I haven’t eaten them as often as I use to. I like various oil and vinegar based salad dressings ok, but I really missed ranch dressing. That was my favorite. And now, it is again! I hope you enjoy this cool creamy dairy free ranch dressing over your next salad. This recipe should really be made ahead of time since it thickens after it sits for at least 30minutes and the dried onion flakes soften. But don’t worry if you don’t have the time to let it sit. I will include a short cut for making the dressing that will allow you to use it within 5-10 minutes. You can store the seasoning mix in a zip top bag in the fridge or any other airtight container.
 

Ranch Seasoning Mix

5 tbsp dried minced onions (onion powder will work if you do not have minced onions)
3 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried dill
½ tsp  salt

Dressing

2 tbsp Ranch Seasoning Mix
1⅓ cup mayonnaise
cup rice milk
1½ tsp lemon juice

·      Combine the mayonnaise, rice milk, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl and whisk until there are no lumps in the mayonnaise.
·      Whisk in the seasoning.
·      Chill for 30 minutes before using it.
·      Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

*Shortcut:
·      Combine and stir the rice milk, lemon juice, and seasoning mix in a bowl.
·      Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
·      Whisk in the mayonnaise (whisk until there are no more mayonnaise lumps).

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Chiffon Pie with Chocolate Ganache



Here is a gluten free version of my Chocolate Chiffon Pie.

Use finely ground nuts, either almonds or hazelnuts, in place of graham cracker or cookie crumbs.

This time I used a 9inch spring form pan instead of a pie pan and added a dairy free chocolate ganache on top. I have decided that I prefer the look and ease of the spring form pan. The result is an unbelievably lush and decadent dessert that is sure to impress anyone who tries it.

Gluten free crust

2 cups ground nuts (almond or hazelnuts)
4 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks, melted

·      Thoroughly mix the ingredients together.
·      Press into the bottom of a 9inch spring form pan.
·      Pour the Chocolate Chiffon Pie filling into the pan.
·      Refrigerate until firm.
·      Run a knife around the edge of the pan.
·      Release the latch and very slowly lift the ring away.
·      Place back in the refrigerator until the ganache is ready.
·      Pour ganache over the pie. (optional)
·      Chill until it is time to serve.


The filling for the pie is the same as the original recipe. I am including it here so it’s all in one place.

Chocolate Chiffon Pie Filling

1 pkg plain gelatin
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1¼ cups rice milk
6 oz. Scharffen Berger Semi Sweet Dark Chocolate*, broken into chunks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Kahlua (coffee flavored liqueur) or 1 tsp coffee extract
4 egg yolks
3 egg whites
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

·      Combine gelatin, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
·      Gradually stir in the rice milk.
·      Add the chocolate pieces.
·      Stir over low heat until the chocolate melts.
·      Remove from the heat.
·      Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl, then whisk a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.
·      Stir the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture.
·      Return to low heat.
·      Stir until thickened.
·      Stir in vanilla extract and Kahlua (coffee extract).
·      Cool mixture until it’s very thick.
·      In a mixing bowl, beat the room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar.
·      Once the egg whites are foamy reduce the speed to medium and very slowly add the sugar.
·      Beat on high until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
·      Stir ⅓ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
·      Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
·      Pour over the crust.
·      Refrigerate.



Chocolate Ganache

You can use other liqueurs or none at all depending on your preference.

9 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate
1 tbsp rum (or Kahlua), optional

·      Chop chocolate into smaller pieces
·      Combine chocolate and coconut creamer in a saucepan.
·      Whisk over medium high heat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture thickens.
·      Remove from heat.
·      Whisk in rum (Kahlua).
·      Let cool until it is warm to the touch, but not hot.
·      Pour and spread over the top of the chilled pie.
·      Refrigerate until the ganache is set.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting



The frustrating frosting is frustrating no more! I have successfully made chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream frosting several times with the Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine sticks.*

I want take a moment to give a quick thanks to David Lebovitz for taking the time last year to respond to my email about meringue buttercream. While he didn’t have an answer on whether or not making meringue buttercream frosting was possible with margarine, he suggested a place to look and he was supportive. Thank you, David! Check out his awesome blog.

Now, back to the frosting. My first attempt at making a meringue frosting was a disaster. I tried making an Italian meringue buttercream and I think that between the water used to dissolve the sugar and the water in the margarine there was too much water to allow the meringue and margarine to come together. My 2nd attempt was a success in regards to texture and consistency, but the taste was absolutely horrible. I used Earth Balance brand margarine and it was way too salty.  I only tried using the Earth Balance because I had difficulty finding the Fleischmann’s. This time I used the Swiss meringue method and it worked. Once I was able to get my hand on the Fleischmann’s, my third attempt was a complete success in both texture AND taste! This is without a doubt the absolute best chocolate frosting ever! The texture is light, creamy and luxurious and the taste is rich and decadent without being sickly sweet. This is the ultimate chocolate frosting.

I suggest using a dark chocolate. I like the result that I get with the bittersweet chocolate (Scharffen Berger). The Scharffen Berger bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolates are dairy free.



6 egg whites
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coffee extract
4 sticks (2 cups) Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine sticks, room temperature
9.7 oz bittersweet chocolate melted

·      Make sure you prep everything that comes in contact with the egg whites.
·      Wipe down the mixing bowl, whisk, whisk attachment/beaters, and candy thermometer with lemon juice or white vinegar to remove any residual oils.
·      Combine egg whites, sugar and extracts in a large mixing bowl.
·      Set the bowl with a candy thermometer over a pot of simmer water.
·      Whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved (140°F-160°F). Mine dissolved at about 155°F.
·      Remove the bowl from the heat and beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form and they have cooled.
·      Add the softened margarine to the egg whites one tablespoon at a time.  Continue to beat on high.
·      If the mixture begins to curdle, continue to beat on high until the mixture comes together.
·      Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
·      In a saucepan, melt the chocolate over medium heat.
·      Turn the mixer on medium high and slowly pour the melted chocolate into the meringue mixture.
·      Place the frosting into the fridge until it firms up (30-60minutes).
·      Once the frosting is firm, beat it on high for 20-30 seconds.
·      Frost your cake.
·      The frosting can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 week or stored in the freezer.

*I receive no compensation from Fleischmann’s (or any other brand) for mentioning their product(s). I mention certain brands because I like the results I get when I bake/cook with them.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara


Around 2007 we had several exchange youths from the Lions Club stay with us. This was our second time having exchange youths. We did it three times and each time was a great and rewarding experience. That summer we had a three teens stay with us. Two were from the Czech Republic and one from Italy. The two from the Czech Republic made these awesome potato pancakes. I love potato pancakes, but even with a food processor they seem to take a lot of work for some reason. The girl from Italy made spaghetti alla carbonara for us. She even made it without dairy so I could have it. It was delicious. We’ve made it quite often since then. I’ve played with it a bit until I got it to be a little creamier. This simple dish with only a few ingredients: spaghetti, olive oil, pancetta (prosciutto or bacon), egg yolks, salt, and pepper. But don’t let the simplicity of this dish fool you it is quite rich. I was unable to get pancetta once, so I substituted prosciutto and we found that we preferred the prosciutto to the pancetta. You could also use bacon if that is what you have on hand. Also, if you can have dairy, you can always add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, as Mike likes to do from time to time.

1 lb box of spaghetti
1/3 lb sliced prosciutto (pancetta or bacon), cut into ¼-½ inch pieces
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 egg yolks
¼ cup pasta water
salt and pepper to taste

·      Bring a large pot of salted water to boil (a pot large enough to hold a whole box of spaghetti).
·      Cut up prosciutto.
·      In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of extra v
irgin olive oil.
·      Add prosciutto and cook until crispy. Turn off burner until right before you add the spaghetti.

·      Mix the egg yolks and the 2 tbsp of the extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl.
·      Once the water is boiling, add the whole box of pasta to the pot. Set the timer for 6 minutes.
·      At minute 5 turn burner under the skillet back on to about medium.
·      After the time goes off, taste the pasta. It should be al dente.
·      Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water.
·      Transfer the pasta to the skillet.
·      Add the remaining olive oil to the pasta and toss with the prosciutto.
·      Cook for about 3-5 minutes on medium heat.
·      Turn off the heat and very slowly add a little bit of the egg yolk mixture at a time. Tossing in between each addition.
·      Add salt and pepper to taste.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chocolate Chiffon Pie


I made my first test batch of thin mint cookies the other day. I ran into some issues with the melted chocolate then I ran out of the melted chocolate so I ended up with some leftover plain chocolate cookies. I decided to use them up by making a pie with a cookie crumb crust.  I went digging through my Mable Hoffman’s Chocolate Cookery cookbook for some inspiration. Here is my modified, dairy free version of her Chocolate Chiffon Pie (p. 206). This pie is light and airy, but still so very rich and creamy.

Pie Crust

1½ tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tbsp Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine Sticks, melted

·      Place the chocolate wafers and sugar into a food processor. Blitz until you get fine crumbs.
·      Add the melted margarine.
·      Mix just until combined.
·      Press cookie mixture into a 9-inch pie pan.
·      Refrigerate until the filling is ready.

Filling

1 pkg plain gelatin
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1¼ cups rice milk
6 oz. Scharffen Berger Semi Sweet Dark Chocolate*, broken into chunks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Kahlua (coffee flavored liqueur) or 1 tsp coffee extract
4 egg yolks
3 egg whites
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

·      Combine gelatin, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
·      Gradually stir in the rice milk.
·      Add the chocolate pieces.
·      Stir over low heat until the chocolate melts.
·      Remove from the heat.
·      Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl, then whisk a small amount of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks.
·      Stir the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture.
·      Return to low heat.
·      Stir until thickened.
·      Stir in vanilla extract and Kahlua (coffee extract).
·      Cool mixture until it’s very thick.

·      In a mixing bowl, beat the room temperature egg whites and cream of tartar.
·      Once the egg whites are foamy reduce the speed to medium and very slowly add the sugar.
·      Beat on high until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
·      Stir ⅓ of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
·      Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
·      Pour into the piecrust.
·      Refrigerate.

*Most of their dark chocolates are dairy free. I’m saying most since I have not checked all of them.