humpday supper, gluten free too

gluten free chicken tenders with cabbage salad with miso-ginger dressing

What’s not to like about humpday? The temperature went up to a very spring-like 54 degrees today! So of course (why not?) I tried these two new recipes. The chicken was juicy and tender. I loved the taste of the Parmesan cheese with the almond flour.  But the coating unfortunately, was soggy. Hmm. I need to work on that one. Anyway, this meal is also delicious with roasted vegetables: zucchini, summer squash, carrots, and baby bellas tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I always do the veggies first, because I never want to forget chicken breast tenders in the oven.

Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Miso-Ginger Dressing
(Adapted from a recipe by Weird & Ravenous via Food52)
The miso-ginger dressing was full of flavor, but I couldn’t taste the ginger very much. So, if you love ginger as I do,  ramp up the flavor.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: —

Serves 4

Ingredients
1-2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, finely minced or put through a garlic press
2 tablespoons miso paste  (I used 1 tablespoon Chinese soy bean paste)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or rice wine vinegar, your preference)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons water
3 cups finely shredded cabbage (about 1/2 a small cabbage)
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into very thin matchsticks
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted (I used white—the black would have made a pretty contrast with the white cabbage and the orange carrot)
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon scallion, sliced thin on the diagonal

Preparation
In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, miso, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and water. Set it aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cabbage, carrots and sesame seeds together with the dressing. Serve immediately if you like it very crunchy or let it sit covered in the refrigerator for up to a few hours if you prefer it more slaw-like.

Garnish with cilantro and scallion.

Gluten-Free Chicken Breast Tenders in Almond Flour (adapted from allrecipes.com)
For this recipe I swapped 1/2 cup of butter for the egg dip. To save even more calories, I recommend using 2 egg whites. To solve the problem of a soggy coating, I read somewhere that if you let the breaded chicken dry for a few minutes on a wire rack before baking, it will bake up crispy. I haven’t tried this at all so I don’t know how well it works.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup almond flour
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips
1 egg, well beaten
1 tablespoon water

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 400˚ F (200˚ C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Mix almond flour, Parmesan cheese, basil, thyme, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the egg and water.

3. Dip chicken strips in the egg mixture; press strips into almond flour mixture until completely coated. Transfer coated strips to the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack until strips are golden brown and no longer pink in the center, at least 20 minutes or until the tenders reach an internal temperature of 165˚F.

blueberry and yogurt coffee cake

blueberry and yogurt coffee cake

Strawberries and blueberries are now at Westside Market here in Manhattan, and they are for sale! Berries are a great mid-winter treat. We have been enjoying them with yogurt and honey and whipped up in smoothies. The next logical step in enjoying this bounty is to bake them. I adapted this recipe for Blueberry Coffee Cake that I found on Olga’s Home and Garden Blog via Coffee Kingdom. This is a great example of how recipes get swapped on the internet! Because I don’t keep buttermilk on hand, I swapped the two cups buttermilk for 1 cup sour milk and 1 cup yogurt thinned with milk. The original recipe called for a 9×13 inch pan but I swapped it for a tube pan, just to be different! The result was light and not too sweet, with a moist tender crumb. Oh, and one more thing, if you have opened baking powder and baking soda in your cupboard for a year as I have, throw them out and get fresh ones! It’s a new year for baking.

Blueberry and Yogurt Coffee Cake

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 60 minutes

For the cake, have at room temperature:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cups white superfine sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour milk
3/4 cup Greek style yogurt (I recommend Fage)
1/4 cup nonfat milk
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I prefer baking with unbleached flour but you can use bleached)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries

For the topping, have at room temperature:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Use one 10-inch tube pan. Do not grease it. Sift together 4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Add 1/4 cup nonfat milk to 3/4 cup yogurt and stir. Set aside.

Cake Baker’s Note: To make sour milk, put 1 tablespoon white vinegar in a one-cup measure. Top up with nonfat milk to the one-cup line. Set aside 2 minutes to curdle.

 In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

First add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then add 1 cup sour milk, and 1/2 the  remaining flour. Add milk-yogurt mixture and the rest of the flour. After each addition, beat until just combined. Scrape the bowl after beating.  Stir in blueberries by hand. Pour batter into the tube pan. Smooth the top with an offset spatula.

In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup flour and 2/3 cup sugar. Using 2 knives, cut in 6 tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle generously over top of batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Test the cake by inserting a cake tester near the center. The tester should come out with a few moist crumbs attached. If there is batter on the tester, bake an additional 5 minutes then test again. Repeat in 5 minute increments, if necessary.

Cool in the tube pan right side up 10 minutes. Insert a thin blade around the sides and remove it. Insert a metal skewer around the center tube. Remove the pan bottom by inserting the blade between the cake and the pan,  pressing away from the bottom. Cool cake thoroughly right side up on a wire cooling rack.

blueberry and yogurt coffee cake

curry-flavor shrimp with sesame rice

Curried Shrimp wth Sesame Rice

It’s been so cold that I decided to cook something hearty but quick and easy. I found this recipe for Sesame Rice Salad in the South Beach Diet cookbook, the blue cover. Since then, I’ve adapted it in some form or another depending on the vegetables I have on hand. One thing I won’t swap is the asparagus. It must have asparagus! Bright green, cooked asparagus is such a pretty contrast in this dish. Though the rice and shrimp are spicy, the crisp-tender asparagus cools the mouth.

Curry-Flavor Shrimp with Sesame Rice

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

20 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, washed and patted dry with paper towels
2 teaspoons curry powder (I recommend Montego, the Jamaican curry powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups cooked brown rice, room temperature
8 stalks asparagus, cut in thirds
1/2 cup frozen edamame
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
cooking spray
2 scallions sliced thin on the diagonal
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced fine
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Red pepper flakes, to taste, optional
salt and pepper

Season the shrimp with curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.

Boil a saucepan of water, lightly salted. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green. Remove from the heat at once, drain, and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

Spray cooking spray in a large skillet. Heat the skillet until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the shrimp and cook on one side until no longer pink, 1 minute. Turn and cook on the other side, 1 minute.

Add the frozen edamame and peas to the hot skillet and cook until they are heated through, scraping up the browned bits or fond on the bottom. Add the rice and the cooked asparagus. Toss to combine. In a small bowl, mix the canola oil, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Whisk until the mixture emulsifies. Pour over the rice and toss lightly. Add the scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Toss lightly. Add red pepper flakes, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve warm or at room temperature.

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

This is definitely a keeper. And a work in progress! The cake had a tender moist crumb with the pleasant tang of lemon throughout. The topping was crunchy, sugary, and at the same time, lemony. I think that filling needs some sweet strawberries as contrast with that tangy lemon.  I feel I need to work out the problem with the pan and then I might solve the problem of the crusty exterior.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Serves 12-16

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

For the Cake, have at room temperature:
2 1/4 cups (11.25 oz) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7.75 oz) plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups sour cream

For the Filling, have at room temperature:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons lemon juice

For the Topping, have at room temperature:
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Prepare 1 tube pan.

Cake Baker’s Note: the original recipe said to spray the pan with cooking spray. This pan should have “feet” so that it can cool upside down elevated off the counter top. In the ATK video, they were using a one-piece pan with a dark nonstick finish. I have a shiny aluminum 2 piece pan. When I unmolded it, the cake fell out of the pan because of the cooking spray. The next time I make this, I will not spray the pan.

In a large bowl, add 2 1/4 cups flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add butter and sugar and lemon zest to the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Add 4 eggs one at a time until well blended. Add vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined after each addition. Add 1/3 of the flour to the batter in the bowl, mixing on low speed. Add half the sour cream and blend. Add half the remaining flour and mix. Add the rest of the sour cream and beat together. Mix in the remaining flour. Remove the mixing bowl and stir by hand with a spatula to incorporate the flour. Remove 1 1/4 cups batter and set aside. Don’t wash out the mixing bowl or the paddle.

Place large dollops of the remaining 2/3 batter in the bowl into the prepared pan, evenly spreading the batter with an offset spatula.

Make the cream cheese filling. To the mixing bowl, add cream cheese, 5 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 4 teaspoons lemon juice. Mix on medium speed 1 minute until creamy. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved batter and blend.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you wish, fold  1/2 cup chopped strawberries into the cream cheese filling.

Add the filling to the top of the cake batter in dollops. Use the off set spatula to spread the filling almost to the edge. Add the last cup of batter to cover the cream cheese filling, spreading it with the offset spatula. Swirl the batter with the tip of the offset spatula using a figure eight motion while turning the pan one-quarter turn until one circuit is completed. Tap the cake pan on the counter firmly 3 times to remove air bubbles and settle the batter.

For the topping, combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest, with 1/2 cup slivered almonds. Use your fingers to mix the topping ingredients. Spread on top of the cake, lightly pressing the topping mixture into the batter so it won’t fall off after baking.

Bake 45-50 minutes in the preheated oven or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. It might have crumbs on it because of the filling. Another test is to lightly press the top. It should spring back and you shouldn’t see your fingerprint in the top. Invert the cake in the pan over a rimmed baking tray with a cooling rack and cool in the pan 1 hour.  Cool in the pan 20 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle the pan to remove the sides and bottom–if it is a two-piece tube pan. It isn’t necessary to invert the pan. Cool thoroughly 1 1/2 hours before slicing and serving. If you’re not going to eat it right away, wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap airtight and store in the refrigerator. Bring the cake to room temperature before slicing and serving.

Cake Baker’s Note: If the tube pan does not have “feet” stick a funnel in the center tube and invert the pan over the funnel so the cake is elevated off the counter. Cool in the pan as directed.

lemony cream cheese coffee cake

banana bread with rum and almonds and turbinado sugar topping

banana bread

On a whim, I added rum to this recipe. This is my favorite recipe for banana bread that originally came from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. Over the years I’ve tinkered with it and it has stood up remarkably well to the indignities to which it was subjected by an inexperienced baker.  For example, I once reduced the amount of sugar in it by one-third. That was a bad idea because the result was not as tender nor as sweet. One early departure from the original recipe was to use a slightly smaller loaf pan size than the 9-inch pan in the original recipe. I like a taller loaf. Encouraged, I kept experimenting with the recipe. I have used brown sugar when I ran out of white, which was great. The bread simply was a darker color because of the substitution.   I’ve thrown raisins in but I prefer it with dried cranberries, which are slightly tart instead of super-sweet, and bake up plump and moist. This time I’ve splashed rum into the batter, and I added a topping of sugar and almonds. The result of this latest experimentation baked up wonderfully moist with a fine crumb and a crunchy caramelized topping.

Banana Bread with Rum and Almonds and Turbinado Sugar Topping

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs well beaten
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 bananas)
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries, optional
3 tablespoons dark rum, optional

Topping:
1/4 cup turbinado or brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch pan or four two 7×4 inch mini-loaf pans. Spray with cooking spray to cut down on calories.

Cake Baker’s Note: If the pan has a dark non-stick finish, reduce the heat to 325˚F

Sift together the dry ingredients: flour(s), baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

Cream the shortening, adding sugar gradually. Cream until light and fluffy. Add the rum, if using. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well blended. If using raisins or cranberries, add to the bananas. Add the flour, mixing until just blended, alternating with half the bananas-raisin/cranberry mixture. Mix in half the remaining flour then add the rest of the bananas-raisin/cranberry mixture. Finally, add the rest of the flour. Do not over mix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Use your fingers to mix the topping and lightly press it into the top of the batter. Bake 50 minutes or until done. [40 minutes in a convection oven]

Cake Baker’s Note: If the pan has a dark non-stick finish, test the bread after 45 minutes. If the tester comes out clean, remove the pan from the oven.

banana bread

last night in bangkok

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For our last feast in Bangkok Andy took us to Seacon Square to Chiseng Lamian, a Chinese noodle shop where they make their own noodles and dumplings. Without a pasta machine too. We had the soup dumplings, though I must say they were nothing like the ones we had  at the Pacificana in Brooklyn. One bite, and a burst of soup spurted into the mouth, perfectly warm without being scalding hot. However, the Chiseng noodles in the pork noodle soup  were perfectly al dente, the baby mustard greens just crisp tender, and the pork was perfection: it held up to the chopstick until placed in the mouth then it was tender without being dry or chewy. We all ordered the Thai iced lemongrass-ginger spiced tea.  Without the ubiquitous condensed milk. It was definitely home-made, with frozen tea-ice cubes. I thought I tasted cloves in it.  For dessert, I ate the frozen ice cubes. By the end of the meal they had turned into the consistency of tea-flavored shaved ice.

hawaiian paradise cake, version 1.0

hawaiian paradise cake

Since I discovered this recipe on flourtrader.blogspot.com a few months ago, I’ve been so intrigued, not only by the colors but also the concept. It’s actually a chiffon cake baked in layer pans instead of the traditional angel food cake tin. And ever since I saw it, I’ve been planning how to make it.

This is a copycat recipe, so called because it attempts to duplicate a famous recipe, in this case the signature cake of King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant in Torrance, California, whose recipe, unfortunately,  is a secret. King’s Hawaiian Bakery’s technicolor cake originally featured three layers: guava, passion fruit, and lime. The top layer is pink, the middle is orange, and the bottom is green.

I had intended to bring the nectars for the cake with me from New York but I forgot. So I had to go with the juices available here in Bangkok. The top layer is strawberry, the middle is orange, and the bottom is guava. In Thailand, guava is a bland green fruit  known as farangIt is eaten sliced with a spicy dip prik kleua or chili-salt which names two of the three main ingredients in this dip, the other being sugar. But I digress.

I wanted this cake to be made with all natural ingredients. So I brought natural food colors with me from Whole Foods in New York. As you can see, the colors are not as vibrant as the artificial food colors. I did not want to use artificial flavoring so I used the zest of the farang and the zest of an orange to boost the flavor of the juices in those layers.

So with the dissertation drafted and submitted to my sponsor and committee just before New Year’s Eve, I decided to try this recipe today.  The strawberry flavor is distinctive, and so is the orange, but unfortunately, the farang flavor is barely there. I loved the whipped cream icing–light and slightly sweet without being overpowering. I call this version 1.0 because I am quite sure I am going to tinker with this recipe again until it is perfection.

Have at room temperature:
Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 1/4 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon
2/3 cups white superfine sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (2 oz) key lime juice
1/4 cup (2 oz) guava nectar
1/4 cup (2 oz) passion fruit nectar
5 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoon each flavoring, optional
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
liquid food coloring: yellow, red, and green (I recommend natural food coloring)
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white superfine sugar

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Get 6 mixing bowls together and 3 eight- inch spring form cake pans, preferably non-stick.  Do not grease and flour the sides or the bottoms. Set aside.

Cake Baker’s Note: I had followed the original recipe and greased and floured three 9-inch cake pans. Mistake. Chiffon cakes are too delicate to bake in greased pans.  They sag under their own weight. Better to use ungreased springform pans.

2. In a large bowl, sift flour with 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a second bowl, beat together oil, water, yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest until just combined. Mix yolk mixture into flour mixture until smooth. The consistency will be thick, like cookie dough. Divide the batter into thirds and place in separate bowls. In one bowl of batter, add the key lime juice. In another, add the guava nectar. In the third, add the passion fruit nectar. Add flavoring, if using. Next, add the food coloring: green for the lime layer, red for the guava layer, and orange for the passion fruit layer. Make the colors darker because the addition of the egg whites will lighten the batter. Do not mix until the nectar/juice, flavoring, and coloring have been added.

Cake Baker’s Note: Here’s a sampler for mixing colors–
Orange: 2 drops yellow, 1 drop red (passion fruit, mango)
Green: 1 drop yellow, 3-4 drops blue (farang/guava, lime)
Yellow: (banana, pineapple)
Red: (guava, strawberry)

I unintentionally over-mixed the orange and guava layers, which is why they are not as fluffy as the pink layer. I should have mixed the colors separately and then added them to the batter. I used about 5 drops red for the pink layer, a total of 9 drops for the orange, and after mistakenly adding red to the green, I think 9-12 drops will do it. I omitted the lemon zest and added 2 teaspoons orange zest to the orange layer and 1 tablespoon farang/guava zest to the farang/guava layer.

3. Using a clean bowl and beaters free of grease, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add the 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Divide the whipped egg whites by thirds and add each third to the batter. Fold. Pour each one into a prepared cake pan.
4. Put each pan in the oven. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove pans from the oven and place upside down on wire racks to cool completely. Re-invert pans and run a thin sharp blade around the edges to loosen the cake. Remove the sides. Invert the cake and remove the bottom using a sharp thin blade. Insert the blade between the cake and the pan bottom and press away from the pan. Once the cake is released from the pan bottom, re-invert the cake for filling and frosting.
5. Fill and frost with whipped cream icing and glaze with fruit syrup (recipes to follow).

Fruit Syrup

Ingredients
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup white superfine sugar
1/2 cup nectar or juice
5 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

Preparation
Mix the corn syrup and juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until dissolved. Mix cornstarch mixture with sugar/juice mixture. Let cool. You can also put this in the fridge for 45 minutes to speed up the process

Whipped Cream Icing

Ingredients
1 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature (reduced fat will work too)
1/2 cup white superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups heavy cream

Preparation
Combine cream cheese, sugar, and extracts in a mixer. While the mixer is running on medium speed, add the cream. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fill and frost the cake then refrigerate it until ready to slice and serve.

Serving suggestion:
Slice the cake and spoon the fruit syrup over each slice just before serving. Serve each slice with a spoonful of fresh fruit, such as sliced berries, mango, and kiwi.