Baking · Gluten Free · Non-vegan · Non-vegetarian · Pies & Cakes

Gluten Free Peach Pie

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Messy-looking, but good. Much like myself! 😀

 

Thinking about old food service jobs.

I have worked around my share of stressed out bakers. They smoke a lot, drink a ton, and are terrible at fidelity. They also make great fucking pie. They put chocolate on everything, sugar, salt, and bacon in everything. You’ll be sweating butter by the time you’re done eating. Crazy fucking delicious. Want to see a show? Watch a stressed out baker make a pie. Screw up the crust, make the filling too watery, or let the meringue set for too long, and stuff like that will send a baker from 0 to 100 in two seconds. I once watched a pastry chef and a line cook almost go to blows over a brownie recipe.  I’m still dreaming of the fruit tarts from a now long defunct eatery in the MPD (Meatpacking District for you non-NYC folk). They made the best baked goods. The owner and head pastry chef had long left and the place was a dysfunctional mess. In the last months the place was opened, they had one pastry chef apprentice who had to make everything, for both the kitchen and the retail bakery next door. It was a hot mess. I didn’t envy her job. She would come into work all nice and fresh faced, and then she would emerge from the basement hours later all sweaty and flushed like she’d just done two rounds with Holly HolmJ. I sure do miss the food, not so much the life (or the people!).

I felt nostalgic for those tarts, but on a lazy Sunday, I decided to make a pie instead. I had a ton of frozen and canned peaches in the kitchen, the result of a failed plan to make my own ice cream this summer. At some point, I realized that I’ve never had peach pie. It never appealed to me, and I’m saying this as someone who’s eaten some goofy-ass pies. Goat cheese-sea salt-caramel, blue cheese-pear-ginger, bacon-fig- chocolate, fig-balsamic-rosemary. These are pretty safe, though, I once had an oyster and beer pot pie that was a vile as you’d imagine it would be. Me? I like stuff as simple as they can get.

I didn’t do much with this pie. No crumble toppings, no silly sea-salt caramel drizzles, no cinnamon-sugar crusts. Basically, no bullshit. Peach pie is pretty good, but it has nada over blueberry pie. I don’t like my pies too sweet, which is why this recipe has very little sugar, but you can had more if you like. You can also use frozen peaches for this recipe, but make sure that they’re fully thawed first.

Gluten Free Peach Pie

Ingredients

Gluten-Free Pie Crust

½ c. brown rice flour*

½ c. spelt flour*

2 T. potato starch

¼ t. xantham gum

½ t. fine sea salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

5-7 T. ice water

*You may substitute your own gluten free flour mix for this recipe.

Peach Filling

2-15 oz. cans sliced peaches in natural juice (if you use peaches in heavy syrup, make sure to rinse them off first)

¼ t. ground nutmeg

½ t. ground cinnamon

1/8 t. ground allspice

6 T. cornstarch

3 T. lemon juice

½ c. dark brown sugar

A 9-inch pie pan

Directions

For the crust: In a large bowl, add flour, salt, and cold butter. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour until pieces are pea-sized.

Mix ice water, one tablespoon at a time, into flour mixture.

Using your hands knead water into the flour mixture until the dough is soft and is held together, not crumbly or sticky (For crumbly dough, add more water, for sticky dough, add flour one tablespoon at a time.).

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Cut in half. Roll each piece into a smooth ball.

Wrap dough balls with waxed paper and refrigerate for thirty (30) minutes up to one (1) hour.

Remove dough ball from the fridge and let sit on the counter for ten minutes before rolling.

On a floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll the dough from the center and then outwards, about twice the width of the pie pan. Do not press down on the dough, but, roll the dough firmly and lightly.

Coat pan with butter or non-stick spray and a light coat of flour. Gently place one piece of dough into the pan, working the dough into the corners. Do the same with the second piece of dough until the pan is completely covered.

Place dough in the refrigerator for 25-30 minutes.

For filling: In a medium bowl, add peaches, spices, sugar. Combine all until well mix. Stir in cornstarch. Set aside.

After chilling the pie dough, remove it from the refrigerator. Drain liquid from the pie filling (You can set the filling aside and use it as a topping).

Fill the pie with filling, arranging the peaches so that every corner is covered.

Bake 400°F for 40-45 minutes until the crust is a golden brown.

Let cool before serving.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

 

Baking · Cupcakes&Muffins · Gluten Free · Non-vegan · Non-vegetarian

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

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Because of my weird food allergies, I’ve had to be picky about so many things. But, I’m not picky about fruit, especially if it’s frozen. The best banana bread I’ve ever made was using some frozen sliced bananas I’d left in my freezer for three months and forgotten about. All of the moisture retained in the bananas, I didn’t even need butter, which was nice because I was stone cold broke when I made it. The best food I’ve ever had was when I didn’t have much money or many ingredients in the pantry. It’s a lot tougher when you have food allergies and you’re broke, especially gluten and where-related allergies because catering to your diet can really run through your wallet.

Bless the Dollar Tree. I freaking love the Dollar Tree. I could write an opus about how awesome that place is. You kind of have to put your ethics aside to shop there because you know that what you’re getting is definitely probably not good for the environment and maybe in the long run eating those frozen meatballs and those mouse pad-shaped disks of tilapia are definitely probably not good for your health! Still, if you live in a city or are facing tough economic times, you can get a nice selection of food, and if you’re a good cook, you can really make great meals from what you find there. I go there to get bags of frozen fruit for a buck and it lasts a while. The last time I was there, I went overboard and purchased a half dozen bags of blueberries because I use blueberries in everything. I make my own preserves, use them in smoothies, and put them on my cold and hot cereal. A fresh pint of blueberries, at least in my neighborhood anyway, is about three dollars. And they’re not even organic. The audacity! Even worse, they’re often not even filled to capacity. City living, I tell you! Crooks everywhere! Whenever I buy fresh berries from the supermarket, I take them out of the carton, put them into a plastic produce bag or in my produce bag I bring from home, and then weigh them on the scale. At the Dollar Tree, you get a twelve ounce bag, whereas most fresh cartons are less than ten ounces. No ma’am. I like to get the best out of my damn dollar.

This morning, I wanted some sort of bread with my breakfast. Since I’m allergic to wheat and was out of my own homemade gluten free bread, I figured I’d make muffins. They came out pretty good! It doesn’t really make that much of a difference if you use frozen versus fresh berries, except for the appearance, because frozen blueberries have the tendency to pop in the oven more than fresh berries, I’ve found. Maybe it’s something to do with the amount of added water from freezing. Still, in terms of taste and flavor, frozen berries do the trick. I usually like to make a crumble topping, but I was at the market this weekend and the price of butter had me shook! Between inflation and droughts, man. I spend more on butter than I do anything else, and I eat organic butter, grass-fed. Organic butter may as well be mixed with pure gold, it’s so expensive. If you don’t have butter, you can switch the butter with mashed bananas (or oil), one (1) cup. Honestly, I wish I’d made these with bananas instead of butter, but however you make your muffins, they’ll come out great.

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

1 c. spelt flour

½ c. coconut flour

½ c. brown rice flour

1 T. baking powder

½ t. fine sea salt

1 stick butter, softened at room temperature

¼ t. xantham gum

2/3 c. granulated sugar

2/3 c. light brown sugar

1 t.  vanilla extract

3 small eggs

½ c.  whole milk

2 ¼ c. frozen blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugars until slightly fluffy and then set aside.

Next, add in eggs and vanilla until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, salt, flour until well mixed. Next, add it to the wet mixture.

Add whole milk into the mixture and combine until you have a smooth batter.

Fold berries into the batter.

Line a muffin pan with muffin paper and fill each three-quarters of the way with batter.

Bake for about 38-40 minutes or until a slightly golden brown.

Remove from oven, let cool, about an hour before serving, two hours or more before freezing.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

 

 

Book Review · Books · Fiction · Novel · Summer Reading

What I’m Reading: A Room with a View by: E.M. Foster

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E.M. Forster was a wonderful observer of human nature in all of its complex motivations, self-destruction, disorder, and idiocy. His works are an observation into the complexities of human nature in all of its irrational, changeable glory. Forster seems to value individualism above all else. The idea of living at the beat of another drummer’s rhythm, for people to “march to their destiny by catchwords” where the individual does not live a life they want but rather one that others desire for them, seems to lead to an unhappy life. A person who would rather live falsely than to embrace the truth is one who cannot express feelings openly and is prone to maintain unhealthy social norms. It leads to a dreary and dull life, and creates a world where moral zealousness overtakes our sensibilities, and destroys our happiness.

It’s difficult to talk about this book without giving away the whole plot. I’ve yet to see a book review which has done otherwise! I think this is due to the fact that the novel is so layered. Some people see it as a feminist study, others an untraditional romance novel, or a philosophical study of morality as it pertains to one’s freedom of choice and happiness. It is a very complex novel and, in all honesty as with most of my reviews, my interpretation of the novel is simplistic and simple and I like to relate personal experiences to the books I’ve read, so you would be hard-pressed to find me writing a feminist study or a deep study of social caste or morals.

With that said, in my opinion, A Room with a View is a book about individualism and even rebellion. Characters challenge the status quo even if it means they lose relationships, and even positions, in respectable society along the way. And in the end, it is in challenging a rigid world and leaving it behind that the characters find that they’re better served in the end. Lucy Honeychurch and The Emersons (George and his father) are in my opinion, some of literatures great individualists. They represent an alternative vision of society where individualism is valued above conformity, where freedom of choice is optimal, and even though they upset many people close to them with their choices, they all lead happier lives as individuals.

I often find myself returning to this book whenever I need to try and sympathize with the complexities of the world and the people within it. I like returning to this book because it’s a nice escapist novel, a book to take me away from the messy times we’re living in. I know, it’s not very healthy, any kind of escapism. I think about the world, how it seems more of a mess than it once was, or maybe it was always a mess and I never noticed. There seems to me this great tension in the world, a breakdown of honesty and tenderness, reality and good manners. Mostly, I find that the world is becoming a place too ingrained with a rigged morality, where people often live based on what society thinks is commonplace rather than what the individual wants. To me, it seems as though human beings are losing touch with their own imperfect, eccentric natures, the kind of natures that made this world so interesting in the first damn place.

When I was younger, I prided myself on my individualism, on the thought that people were as intellectually receptive to the ways of life and living, and that as adults people rarely grew up somber and cynical unless they’d had unrealistic expectations of life. I always stood by my own beliefs of optimal living; that one could possess optimism and knowledge, practicality and idealism and live a good existence. I looked upon the world with such zeal and excitement at that age, I still do, but I am a bit more sober with experience. I don’t regret such idealism, but I think that maybe things would have affected me less harshly as an adult if I’d also imbued some of life’s complexities into my own idealistic nature. I wish that I’d been told more about the heartbreaks. Your heart breaks, a lot. It’s painful and it can ruin the best of you, the parts of you that push you to be driven and hopeful of the future. If you’re not self-aware, brave even, it’s so easy to fall in line and be compliant with convention, to lose yourself in the safety of conformity, all because you don’t want to get your heart broken again and again.

But a bit of rebellion doesn’t have to be about being self- destructive. I’ve found that sometimes it’s as simple as having an open heart and mind, a healthy dose of self-awareness, and a good amount of empathy for others, that makes life worth living. I’m opposed to a single-minded view or idea that settles on stringent beliefs or values. My life is very unconventional, but I don’t feel as limited to experiences in life as I think I would have if I’d stuck to norms, plus, I feel good about myself. It’s this “rebelliousness” that keeps me grounded, compassionate, but also allows me to question conventions. It’s also helped me to build my confidence.

But the world is very different, the people within it, at times not as brave. Sometimes I feel like I am standing on the outside of everything, observing, watching. I see a lot of frustration, a lot of people oppressing each other, trying to contain each other’s spirit. Why is that? Fear, I think. Forster understood this fear and how it destroys people:

“[She gave up trying to understand herself, and]…the vast armies of the benighted, who follow neither the heart nor the brain, and march to their destiny by catch-words. The armies are full of pleasant and pious folk. But they have yielded to the only enemy that matters-the enemy within. They have sinned against passion and truth, and vain will be their strife after virtue. As the years pass, they are censured. Their pleasantry and their piety show cracks, their wit becomes cynicism, their unselfishness hypocrisy; they feel and produce discomfort wherever they go.”

About fear, Thich Nhat Hanh says: “People have a hard time letting go of suffering, out of a fear of the unknown. They prefer suffering that is familiar.”

Still, what I love is that Forster is unwaveringly optimistic throughout. There are no villains or good characters. Characters do not suffer for objecting to the status-quo (as so many writers of the time such as Edith Wharton and Henry James were prone to show in their novels). And even though this not very realistic, I like that Forster still believes in a happy ending. Still, happiness only comes when one has the courage to break away from convention.

So, think outside of the box, kids. And then once you’re out, take a can of gasoline, throw on it a lit match, and walk the fuck away. I say this as a metaphor, of course. Please don’t set literal fires, except to your mind, with knowledge, and a book.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka

 

Baking · Gluten Free · Pies & Cakes

Gluten-Free Apple Crumb Pie

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Off to a barbecue. As an introvert, socializing takes me out of my natural habitat, away from my books, my bed, my home, away from people J. As I write this, it’s 7:49 in the morning, and all I’m thinking of is 634,634,873,408,083 excuses to back out. I want to be home, in my pajamas, in my bed, with a book.

But then I remember that the upside is I’ll get to bake some pies. I bake pies for every barbecue I go to barbecue. As summer baking goes, apple pies are a sure thing.

I go into the kitchen and immediately retreat into the world of apple pie making. I cut cold butter, flour, and water together, peel and slice apples. And what happens with me, as it always does, is that the baking calms my goofy thoughts, the anxiety disappears, and the stress melts away with the time.

I am happy with the pie. It is a great pie. And the best thing about a great pie is that people will be too busy eating to notice that I’ve snuck off to a quiet area of my friend’s house to read the small book I’ve brought in I’ve purse.

The power of pie!

(Happy Fourth of July 4th!)

 

Gluten-Free Apple Crumb Pie

Crust

¾ t. xantham gum

1 stick salted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

5-6 TBS. ice water

1 1/3 c. brown rice flour

1 1/3 c. spelt flour

Filling

½ c. brown sugar

¼ c. + 1 TBS. brown rice flour

5-6 Granny Smith apples, cleaned, pealed, and cored

4 TBS. flour

¼ t. ground allspice

1 t. ground cinnamon

1.5 t. vanilla extract

2.5 t. lemon Juice

Topping

¾ c. brown rice flour

½ c. light brown sugar

1.5 ts. ground cinnamon

1 stick salted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

In a medium bowl, pour all ingredients for crust. Using a pastry cutter or knife (or food processor if you have one), cut and blend dough together until the pieces are pea-sized.

Roll dough into a ball and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate for 40 minutes (or until use).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1-inch thick in diameter.

Carefully place dough in either an aluminum pie or a standard pie pan, lightly pushing the sides against the pan’s surface until covered. Place pie crust in fridge.

In a medium bowl, add apples, spices, flour, lemon juice and sugar in a large bowl and stir together until combined.

Remove pie crust from fridge. Pour in apples.

In another bowl, mix flour, butter brown sugar and cinnamon. Using pastry cutter or knife, cut butter mixture in small pea-sized pieces.

Preheat oven to 375°F degrees.

Sprinkle and evenly spread butter crumble over apple filling.

Bake 25-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and golden.

Remove pie from oven and let cool before serving.

© 2017 • CoffeeCupcakesKafka