Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lemon Blueberry Bars

I just love recipes with stories attached. And maybe this is New-Age-California-Yogi-Speak getting to my head, but I sincerely believe that when food is cooked with love and a loving intention, the food is better. That's why I was so touched when our friends in New York served these lemon bars which have such meaning and significance in their lives. Sparing you the details of their family history for the sake of their privacy, these bars were made in a poignant gesture of love and comfort in unimaginably difficult circumstances. Now, they are made in celebration of family togetherness and joy. I was humbled when they agreed to share the recipe with me so that I could bake these little morsels of citrusy love for the Eat My Blog charity bake sale that is happening today at Tender Greens in West Hollywood, CA. I made a couple little tweaks to the recipe--I just love the combination of lemon and blueberries (and blueberries are fantastic right now), so I added those and because I love the tartness of lemony desserts, I reduced the sugar slightly and added some lemon zest. I hope that you will go to the bake sale to support the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank today!!! Or if you do not live in L.A., perhaps you'll make these goodies for a friend who's going through a hard time or just for your family to tell them you love them. A Votre Sante!!!

Lemon Blueberry Squares

2 sticks butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cup flour plus 4 Tablespoons flour
4 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
5 Tablespoons lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
1 cup blueberries, dusted with flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Blend butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add salt, two cups flour, and mix until all the flour is incorporated. Press into a 9X13 greased pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, mix the eggs, sugar, 4 Tablespoons flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Fold in blueberries. Pour over baked crust.

4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges are light brown. Let cool 1 hour.

5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy! (These freeze well, too!)

Printable version here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Babycakes Brownies

First of all, I ask your forgiveness for being so MIA as of late. I was on a cleanse developed by Kirsten McCormick, my friend and owner of Running with Forks. for 21 days and was cooking very simply as my choices were so restricted. The cleanse required that I give up all animal products (Vegan), all sources of gluten, and of course, sugar, alcohol, and sweeteners. I felt really great afterward and realized how little animal protein I actually need! The weekend after my cleanse, I had to go back to my hometown for a funeral and my husband's family and I all had dinner together--we opened bottles of wine and kept 'topping off.'

I would not recommend this.

I had a massive hangover the next day as I had just re-toxed my recently de-toxed liver. Poor liver. Poor me! I felt horrible. Anyway, my stomach hurt and so I told myself that I could eat crackers and bread until the stomach pain went away. Well, it kept on keeping on! 5 days later, my stomach still hurt until I realized (duh!) that I was making it hurt by eating wheat! I am not sure if I have wheat intolerance, gluten intolerance, or just a sensitivity to one of these things, but as soon as I stopped eating that stuff, I felt better.

The interesting thing is that I have never had issues with wheat....that I knew of! It wasn't until I went off gluten (found in wheat products and some other grains) that my body kind of just tightened up. I lost some bloat that I had thought was just 'normal.' I had a similar experience with milk. After three weeks of not drinking milk, I became lactose-intolerant which I think is really a good thing. There exists lots of evidence that suggests adult humans should not be drinking milk at all.

So, now I find myself in a place where I am finding new and interesting ways to eat delicious foods without dairy or gluten! Hence I picked up this cookbook, Babycakes. If you live in New York or Los Angeles, you may have heard of this bakery. They bake only Vegan, Gluten-Free, and mostly Sugar-Free products. If you're thinking, "Nasty," I can assure you I was with you 100%. But the remarkable thing about this bakery is that their cupcakes were rated #1 in LA ABOVE traditional bakeries!

These are the Brownies from this cookbook. I ate three (quality control....just a sacrifice I have to make for my readers!) but I'd recommend one or two if you can stand it--they're rich!

The one drawback to the cookbook is that you will have to purchase a bunch of ingredients that you can either find at Whole Foods or you will have to order online and are a bit pricey but for me, it's totally worth it. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Babycakes Brownies

1 Cup Garbanzo-Fava Bean Flour
1/4 Cup Potato Starch
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for tins
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water or coffee (I used coffee)
1 Cup Vegan Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease three 12-cup mini muffin tins with oil.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, potato starch, arrowroot, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the 1/2 cup oil, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips just until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

Using a melon baller, scoop the batter into each prepared mini-muffin cup. Bake the brownies on the center rack for 10 minutes, rotating the tray 180 degrees after 5 minutes. The finished brownie will have a firm edge with a soft center and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

Let the brownies stand in the pans for 10 minutes; they are best served warm. To maintain freshness, leave the brownies in the tins until ready to serve. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Printable version here.