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One of the first things newly gluten-free people learn how to bake is flourless peanut butter cookies. They’re easy, taste familiar, and comfort you that just because you can’t eat gluten anymore doesn’t mean that you’ll never enjoy homemade cookies again. However, since I was taking dessert to a party that was going to be attended by several hot-stuff bakers, I didn’t want to show up with plain old peanut butter cookies. I needed something with a little wow and a lot of decadence. There needed to be crunch, sparkle, a hit of salt. There needed to be chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cookies

3 cups crunchy peanut butter
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup any GF flour mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs

Cream together peanut butter and sugars, stir in baking powder and flour until incorporated. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

Scoop dough up by rounded tablespoons full, roll in white sugar, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Criss-cross with a fork. Bake at 325° for about 8 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool the rest of the way.

Chocolate Frosting

This chocolate frosting recipe is right off the side of a Hershey’s cocoa box.

1 4-oz stick of butter
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter and stir in cocoa until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, alternating with milk, until desired texture is reached. Beat in vanilla and salt.

Assemble cookie sandwiches:

Place about a tablespoon of frosting on the flat side of one cookie. Put another cookie on top and gently press down until the frosting comes nearly to all edges. Place on a cookie sheet. When all sandwiches are made, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set frosting. Before serving, sprinkle a little coarse kosher salt over each sandwich.

Stand back and watch fisticuffs ensue. Makes about 2 dozen cookie sandwiches.

 

 

A surfeit of fruit

It’s that time of year, when the U-Pik signs go up along roadsides, advertising cheap berries for the effort of crouching in the fields over low strawberry bushes, sticking your hands into god knows what…. Sorry. Bad childhood experience.

Did you know? Most U-Pick places also have some already-picked flats for purchase. And the cost is not that much more. There are better ways to earn your Janie Dollaz. Like, say, making jam!

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So you know what’s awesome after you’ve had the longest work week on record, and maybe possibly just the tiniest bit too much to drink on Friday night, to celebrate the end of the longest work week on record?

Quiche.

Hear me out. I know it’s got this reputation as effete Fronch foofoo, but seriously. It’s got everything your hangover needs – salt, grease, carbs, protein. Plus bacon. 

Start with a pie crust. Make your own, if you’re up to it. (There’s a gluten-free one here for those so inclined.) Press it into your pie plate, and preheat the oven to 400°.

What’s in your refrigerator? Veggies, cheese, proteins – all good in quiche. I coarsely chopped some bacon and fried it until it was right on the cusp between chewy and crispy, then sauteed some chopped zucchini and halved cherry tomatoes in the bacon fat until the zukes gave up their water and the veggies started to caramelize. Then I dumped the bacon, the veggies (drained of fat), and some crumbled feta into the pie crust.

Work in progress

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I’m mostly good with the whole gluten-free thing. My health has so improved since I de-glutened my life that I hardly ever cast sad eyes on crusty French baguettes or Canadian Oreos* or puff pastry.

Except. 

Once upon a time, if my day had been full of printer errors and cranky clients and buck-passing coworkers, I would console myself with an order of Zip’s chicken strips. Crunchy, salty, fried to a dark golden brown – whether my crisis was occupational or hormonal, an order of chicken strips would always make me feel better. 

*Random fact! Canadian Oreos are actually ten poobley times better than American Oreos. Perhaps it is the magic Mountie dust? Or the fact that they use real sugar instead of corn syrup? Either way, hand over your Oreos, Canadians, and no one gets hurt!

ZOMG Fried Chickens

(Recipe after break. For chicken. Recipe for Oreos: Drive to Canada. The End.)

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So I was standing in line for movie snacks, scanning to see if they had Reese’s Pieces (Did you know Reese’s Pieces are gluten-free? And also a sure-fire lure for stranded aliens? True Facts!) when I tuned in to the conversation going on in front of me. The sweet young thing surrounded by her sweet young friends was ordering “the chocolate-covered peanuts?” And the concessionaire was pretending that he didn’t know what she meant, because he knew exactly what she was talking about, and he wasn’t going to give in until she slitted her eyes and lowered her voice and said “The GOOBERS. I want a box of GOOBERS.” Which if I had to wear a red polyester vest all day and sell “buttery topping,” I would probably play mean games like that, too.

But I empathized with the girl. I HATE shopping at stores with stupid names, using products with stupid names… I have a very small cool reservoir as it is, and I can feel it leaking away every time  I say something like “I bought my Zumba tapes at Fit ‘n Hollywood on Wiener Street!”

I have a food-related point here. Honest. Read the rest of this entry »

Because everything's more fun with FIRE.

Because everything's more fun with FIRE.

I do not pretend to understand people who are all “Pie? It’s ok, I GUESS.” I think if they had a slice of lemon pie with brown sugar meringue, they would change their minds but fast. Of course, this is the opinion of the woman who, in the early days of her marriage, would hear statements like “I don’t like mushrooms” and say awful things like “Oh, that’s because you’ve never had them cooked right.” Choose between the following for greatest miracle: a) that I’m still married or b) that he honestly does like mushrooms now. (The secret? Everything – EVERYTHING – tastes good with enough butter and/or garlic.)

But I digress.

This pie is a mind-changer. There’s a solid inch and a half of almost-too-tart gooey lemon, topped with smokey sticky almost-too-sweet brown sugar meringue. I make a gluten-free pie crust, but if you can handle the gluten, a purchased pre-baked shell will work just fine. Read the rest of this entry »