Monday, March 30, 2009

The Muffins That Ate...It

I wanted some really great title for this post.  Like Killer Muffins Attack Tokyo or something. For one, my muffins weren't poisonous.  Two, they have nothing to do with Tokyo.  And three, don't killer anythings attack other places?

Alright, it's Monday morning and clearly that's taking a toll on the sane center of my brain, but that does not change the fact that I did make muffins yesterday.  And they did eat it.  However, I'll still eat them.

I think there are many reasons that these muffins did not turn out, and I plan on sharing them with you so you can either help me solve my issue for trial #2 coming up next weekend or not repeat my mistakes in this experiment.  

Major Problem #1: Substitution Extravaganza
I started with a recipe that wasn't my own and wasn't originally gluten free.  I then substituted so many of the ingredients that I think the chemistry was off. The biggest problem was in the consistency of batter.  In the original post, the chef remarked that the batter would be lumpy. But mine was more of a dough and less of a batter.  It was dry yet incredibly sticky.  You see, when you substitute agave for sugar in recipes, you are supposed to lessen the liquid. Normally, this works; however, this time, the batter just seemed too dry and dense.  I think the next trial will include the full amount of milk AND 1/4 cup more pumpkin.  

1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil

What I did:
1 1/2 cup GF rice flour blend
1/3 cup agave
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp spice blend
1 egg
1/4 cup + 4 tbs milk (I use lactose and fat free)
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup apple puree
1/2 cup low sugar, soy free mini chocolate chips

Major Problem #2:  Evil Oven
I'm convinced that the oven in my rental flat may be possessed by the devil. First it wouldn't turn on.  Then it wouldn't heat up for ages.  Then it heated up so quickly it started to cook things fast; we're talking supersonic cooking times folks.  The best was when it decided to randomly shut off when I was making dinner last night and not turn back on.  That was awesome.

In the original recipe, the muffins are supposed to cook for 20 (okay?) 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.  I had my muffins at the Celsius equivalent for 6 minutes when they started to burn a bit on top.  That's right folks.  My muffins went straight from raw to almost burning in 6 minutes out of a 20 minute suggested cook time.  I'd say that's light speed.  It's also another reason why the muffins were a bit spongier and more rubbery than desired.  As well as lightly charred in places.  Lightly charred pumpkin.  Yum, yum.

I'll post the recipe below anyways.  They're not the best muffins in the universe, but if you're on a low everything diet, they're a fairly decent snack choice with a low GI (minus the chips), no gluten and if you add fruit instead of chips or don't add anything, they're nearly fat free and super low cholesterol.  

Nearly Free From Everything (Including Awesome Flavor) 
Pumpkin Muffins aka PM Trial #1

1 1/2 cup GF rice flour blend of choice
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tsp GF baking powder
2 tsp spice blend or pumpkin pie spice
1 egg
1/4 cup + 4 tbs milk (I used lactose and fat free)
1/2 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup apple puree or apple sauce (which will add more liquid than the puree)
1/2 cup low sugar, soy free mini chocolate chips (or addition of your choice)

Directions (according to how my oven cooked it, adjust accordingly):
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place parchment paper liners in a 12 muffin pan.  Do not grease; it's parchment paper.
In a bowl, sift all dry ingredients together.  
Add all wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix well, careful to not over-mix.
Drop sticky batter into 12 liners and bake, watching carefully until muffins brown (this trial, it took about 5 minutes but I have a feeling it takes more time in less demonic ovens)
Remove and cool.

Remember, this was only the first trial.  Check back next week for the second trial which I have a feeling might be pretty successful.  The suspense is just killing you, isn't it?  Better the suspense kills you than the muffins kill you.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pea is for Pasta

Ah yes.  A new kitchen.  So full of appliances that aren't yours, ready to malfunction.  Last week, I was having issues with the oven.  It was working, then it wasn't.  Now it is, but the no oven thing led me to a stovetop meal for last week's dinners.

There's almost nothing easier to make than pasta.  Hands down it's probably the cheapest, quickest way to nourishment.  And man oh man, was I looking for quick and easy last week. But quick and easy doesn't mean that it won't have depth of flavor.  Jazz it up a bit and your version of quick and easy can taste four-star yummy!  Here's what I did to dress up my pasta like it had some where nice to go.

Note:  I used corn pasta which makes it much easier on a low-oxalate diet. If you get the pastas mixed with rice and quinoa starches, don't forget to account for how much moderate oxalate foods you are eating.

Olive Oil Turkey Pasta with Peas


1.1 lbs or 500 grams of lean turkey breast, chopped into cubes
6.7 oz or 190 grams of fresh shelled peas, washed and steamed
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, washed and plucked
3 sprig fresh thyme, washed and plucked
1/2-1 tsp sea salt
1/2-1 cup olive oil (yes I know that's a lot but the olive oil will also be your sauce for the entire dish, so you won't be inhaling it all at once)
1 package of corn pasta, whichever kind
fresh cracked pepper


In a saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of the olive oil on medium heat until hot.
Add turkey and brown, making sure not to overcook (I personally always overcook my meat but it does tend to make it drier)
While the meat is cooking, boil water for pasta in another saucepan.
While the turkey is cooking, add some more oil as the old oil gets absorbed.
Add the spices, garlic, salt, and pepper to the turkey.
Add the pasta to the now boiling water and follow directions on package (I used 2/3 of my spaghetti)
Add the peas and some more oil to the turkey.  Stir to incorporate and cook evenly.

just look at them getting all incorporated

Drain the pasta when done and add to the turkey mixture.
If you want to add more oil to dress your pasta (this is your "sauce") than do so.
After it's all mixed up, you're done.  What are you waiting for?  Eat that sucker!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's More Fun Than A Giveaway?

Answer is nothing.  Nothing is more fun than a giveaway!!  And the super talented Doughmestic genius herself is having one.  Just go to She's Becoming Doughmestic's YWPWT post, and see what you can do to win yourself one of Emile Henry's beautiful pie plates.

What's that you say?  I thought your blog was allergy specific you say?  Of course it is!  But you can make allergy-conscious pies silly!  Just check out my blog.  I've already done some; you can too!

Good luck to everyone who enters :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pre-Pear Yourselves For This!!!!

The puns are back folks!!  In full force I might add.  Now, I'm going to tell you why this entry almost didn't happen.

I moved into my flat on Tuesday night, and I've been working 10-12 hour days since.  Today is Friday.  I think it goes without saying that when you only have a couple hours a night before you crash, you're just not as motivated to cook. But dear reader, I could not bare to miss this month's You Want Pies With That Challenge: Herbs & Spices.  Chosen by the brilliant Elizabeth of Cake Or Death, I've got to tell you, I've been looking forward to making this pie for a month. I couldn't wait to get into the kitchen when, uh-oh, I realized the "furnished" kitchen only came with 3 small saucepans.  Well, I've been accruing minimal tools and ingredients over short grocery trips the past few night just to make this damn pie.  And even though it's a quarter to midnight and I've just finished this madness I am soooo proud of myself because it's a pie I really believe in and tastes really, really great.  I mean this is the kind of tart you want to love and not let go.  You want to treat her like a lady.  Okay, I've probably had too much wine which combined with the exhaustion has made me go a little nutsy.  I digress...

So what did I think of that inspired me for Herbs & Spices?  Since I'm in the UK, and it's cold, I wanted something spicy yet soothing.  Something that made me feel warm and safe.  Something that radiated energy.  Something that danced on my tongue and included alcohol.  I give you-

Spiced-Wine Poached Pear Tart
1) GF Shortbread Crust


2 packages Sainsbury's Free-From Shortcake Fingers (essentially GF shortbreads.  Enough to make 1 1/2 cups crumbs)
1/4-1/2 cup butter


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Use a blender, food processor or the old take-a-glass and smash it method to turn the shortbread cookies into small crumbs.
Melt butter in microwave.
Combine crumbs and melted butter; mix well.
Pat into a tart pan or a white flan plate if you're shopping in the UK and can't find a tart pan ;)
Heat in the oven about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove and cool.

2) Spiced-Wine Poached Pears


5 firm, stout pears of your choice, pealed and cored, leaving the stem on top
1 bottle of full bodied red wine (I used a nice Shiraz)
2 tbs cardamom pods/seeds
1 tbs black peppercorns
2 tbs agave
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs spice mix (I used my own secret mix combining cinnamon, caraway seeds, coriander, nutmeg, ginger, cloves)
1 cup 100% fresh pressed fruit juice of your choice (I used an apple, grape, raspberry mix)


In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients from the wine down.  
Bring to a boil for a few minutes.
Add pears to boiling wine, poaching for 5 minutes on one side, 5 minutes on the other side (yes, the wine is still boiling while you're poaching.)
Remove from heat and baste every 5 or 10 minutes for 1 hour while pears cool.

3) Vanilla Bean Custard

I'm not even going to lie, I used a store bought custard but cooked it myself.  And it's got the bean which I tre love.

4) Assemble

Spread a thin layer of cooked custard over the tart crust (just shy of 2 cups cooked) until covering.
Slice all poached pears but one in half lengthwise being careful to match the symmetry of each pear.  This will make sure that the pears are the same height when resting on the tart.
Slice all halves thinly lengthwise to create ripple effect (I was going to fan the slices.  It didn't work.)
Place rippled half on pie and place last poached pear remaining in the middle.
Yes, you will have a half a poached pear left over.  I ate mine.  It was delicious!

Anyways, we're posting our pies on Pi 3/14.  Aren't we cute?!  Check out the other amazing bakers who no doubt put me to shame.  Now let me show you my favorite part of all of this slaving-

Leftover spiced wine.  Hell yeah :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Have a Date for My New Kitchen & Oh, Yeah... A Medical Procedure to Boot!

Good news to all!  I will be moving into my flat on Tuesday which means (fanfare please) I will have a kitchen once again!!  To the non-allergic, this may sound like not such big news, but my poor allergic body has been having a time of it these past few weeks.  Unfortunately, my allergies and immune system totally decided to jump ship earlier this week; they'd had enough.  And hey, I don't blame them.  I've been putting them through a lot lately.  But Tuesday dear body, get ready for a controlled food environment that I know you've been dying for- literally.  Trust me, I've spared you reader from some of the less pleasant moments.

Now to good news part two.  When I passed this last kidney stone they found another one.  And let's be honest; I can't pass another one of these suckers.  I'd rather be killed (almost.)  The pain is unbelievable!  Anyways, I met with a urologist this past week aka a doctor I thought I wouldn't need until my 70's, and he ordered another kidney ultrasound.  What was there, you say?  Two stones!!  Two!! One hiding behind the other.  Bastards.  They're large too. Lucky me. But wait!  You said good news; where's the good news?!  Here it is: I qualify for the ESWL, which basically uses ultrasound waves to break up the stones so I don't have to pass them. Instead, they brake into teensy bits that pass naturally, and most importantly, pain free. Well, almost pain free.  I guess your kidney feels like it's been punched after.  Okay, that sucks, but hey, no more stones, right?  Let's all hope against hope that this is the last time I'll be dealing with this kidney soap opera I've been living with.  

This good news brings me into better spirits today.  I had to stop posting for a few; I was getting soooo sick (remember all that stuff I spared you from?) and now I'm starting to feel a little bit better.  I'm starting to have some energy again, I'm reintroducing food, and I have two good things to look forward to. Yay positivity; welcome back.