Holiday Bread Pudding

What to do with the leftover cookies from Christmas that are kinda starting to get stale.  My preference is to salvage them by making a delicious cookie bread pudding. It varies depending on the cookies you throw in it. I also use holiday bread leftovers like stolen and my favorite Italian fennel and golden raisin bread. The more the merrier!

This is a basic oven baked bread pudding. Nothing tricky or fancy. You don’t have to soak or let it stand a long time.  You can make it with gluten free cookies or wheat based. Store or homemade. I’ve been making it for many years and it works great with gluten free cookies. This time I used delicate meringue filled cookies but a host of cookie varieties will do just as well. I admit it is not a pretty pudding. But it will taste delish and use up those holiday baked goods you have hanging around still!

bread pudding in cup

Angie’s Cookie and Bread Pudding

Approximately 2-3 cups crumbled leftover cookies/bread; not packed in cup I used about 2.5 cups of crumbled cookies

1 Tbsp soft butter

3 eggs

3 cups whole or 2 percent milk ( plus up to a cup more milk if needed)

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. real vanilla extract

Pinch salt

 

Directions: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 1 quart baking dish; I generally use a medium (7 inch diameter) ceramic souffle pan. Place broken cookies/bread into buttered dish. Do not squash down.

Beat eggs in a mixing bowl until fairly well broken up; add milk. Add sugar, vanilla and salt, stir well to melt the sugar. Pour over the cookies. If the milk mixture does not reach the top of the cookies you might have to add a bit more milk. You don’t want to start off with not enough liquid to form custard. Don’t add more than another cup of milk or it will substantially change the proportions of the custard. Place pan in oven and bake 35-45 minutes until the top is slightly browned and the custard is firm-ish. I wiggle the pan to see if it still is liquid; you want a little bit of wiggle; just not so much that your pudding is under-baked.bread pudding in pan

Cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Goes great with a bit of freshly whipped cream. Enjoy!bread pudding with cream

Kiffles Are For Christmas!

Kiffles are a local favorite when it comes to cookies, particularly Christmas cookies.  The Kiffle Kitchen outside of Bath, PA has made their reputation on their outstanding kiffles, sold on line! I used to enjoy them but never took the time to make them until a few Christmases ago.  I had purchased “Gluten-Free Baking Classics The Heirloom Collection” by Annalise G. Roberts and page 170 had the answer to my search; Rugelach, Kifles, and Kolaki.

I made a batch of kiffles (the preferred local spelling) on Christmas Eve 2015.  I just did jam filled, apricot and raspberry. The cream cheese dough in formed into two discs and chilled before rolling out between wax paper sheets into an 8 inch square. I did find myself chilling it a bit to keep it from getting too soft.  After rolling, cut each big square into 16 two inch squares and put a tsp. of best quality jam on each; fold together so the filling peeps out both ends and chill some more on the baking sheet.  I brushed them with heavy cream and sprinkled a touch of granulated sugar on before they hit the hot oven. The cute packets of dough and jam bake up lightly browned and delicate. Success was felt when my mom ate a few that evening.  Her smile told me how yummy they were.

Next time I made them with the nut and cinnamon filling that is very traditional around the Lehigh Valley.  Yummers!  Stores sell special kiffle filling meant just for these cookies but I don’t think it is gluten free due to cross contamination issues and therefore not safe for me to enjoy.

So if you are gluten free and crave kiffles; this cookbook by Annalise Roberts is the place to find a workable recipe.  She has never failed me yet with her desserts and I thank my lucky stars her cookbooks are on my shelf to guide me through holiday, parties and everyday meals. I don’t mean to sound like a salesperson for her but I can’t say enough great things about this new cookbook and her prior best seller Baking Classics – my copy of that is well worn and I couldn’t exist without it.  This kiffle recipe is way too involved to type out for you and I think that if you are serious about baking gf you need to check it out and get your own copy, real soon! Here are the dough ingredients to help you in deciding whether  you want to make it:

1 cup gf flour, King Arthur Basic blend

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

6 Tbsp. softened butter

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

You can use apricot or raspberry jam or what ever you like; be careful as some kiffle fillings that are ready made have traces of wheat flour in them.

Note: when I was first looking for kiffles I did a search on line for a gluten free kiffle recipe and didn’t really find one; lots of other cookies but these are quite a specialty and not made by most home cooks except in areas where they are popular and what you can buy is not gluten free.  Let me know if you can provide any other recipes but I am very happy with the one I used and recommend to you for your own holiday baking. Enjoy!

Originally published December 2015.

Christmas Stollen – Even Better

I am very traditional about certain things and stollen for Christmas is one of them. I made it a couple of years ago but wasn’t that impressed with the gf version I chose. This December I made it from a recipe on King Arthur’s website and it was so easy and so very delish I just had to share it right away with you. My mom and I had some together this afternoon and I marveled at how perfect it was, you would never guess it is gluten free. It is made without a mixer, just a whisk, a pastry cutter, a big spoon and a bread board to knead it briefly. The recipe is found at: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-holiday-stollen-recipe. It uses their basic all purpose blend, does have eggs and butter and some ricotta cheese. No fancy techniques. Sort of almost a quick bread that looks like you were baking all day. Tastes like Christmas should taste!

I made a few changes; I didn’t have the butter flavor additive. I added 1/4 tsp lemon extract to up the lemon flavor that came from the zest of an entire good sized Meyer lemon.  I added 2 more Tbsp. of ricotta cheese. I used full fat and maybe that altered things but it was a bit dry so I added as I mixed it up and kneaded it. I shaped each half into an oval about the size the recipe says and I folded it the short way so it was chubby and appealing; I used to do it the long way; like it much better like this.  Makes  nicer slices and fits on my big sheet pan much easier.

stollen fruit

 

My dried fruit inside was tuned up by 1 Tbsp. of brandy that soaked right in.  I only did the butter brushing after baking once. Did sift powdered sugar then and after it was mostly cooled.  My dried fruit mix was 1/2 cup golden raisins, and 1/2 cup of currants, chopped dried apricots and a cherry and berry dried blend. I started the oven heating and toasted my almonds as it got hot; put them outside in the cold for 2-3 minutes to cool before adding to the mix.  stollen wet ingreds

I baked this about 8 extra minutes as it just wasn’t brown; don’t be afraid to do that if something looks too pale or underdone; far better to be a tad crunchy than saggy underbaked dough insides. stollen ready to bake

This was easy; no yeast to deal with. The only special tool I recommend is a pastry cutter; it has several blades and cuts the butter into smaller and smaller bits which is what gives this bread pastry its flaky tenderness. You could use a butter knife instead; will just take longer. stollen baked

This is the Christmas bread of my dreams. Don’t be afraid; you can make this my friends! Enjoy the holidays and Merry Christmas! stollen sliced

Lemon Birthday Layer Cake

If you know me you know I love to bake. Pies, cookies, bars, muffins, sweet breads….cakes not so much except angel food cake which I am rather good at if I do say so. But birthday cakes are my kryptonite – I screw them up time after time. I guess it is the pressure….it gets to me. So I was going to make my birthday cake last week and went with a lemon flavored layer cake with a bit of lemon curd between the layers. Sounds kinda ambitious but I was determined to try a new recipe and use some of my wonderful homegrown lemons mailed all the way from Texas.

I had some new Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 baking mix to try out. But it turned out that what I needed was the same flour mix I love and use in the majority of my recipes *King Arthur’s All Purpose blend. Perfect. The new mix will wait….

My sister Karen suggested cream cheese icing after I told her I was not too happy over the super sweet sounding icing that this recipe used. The cake was simple to make; lower fat as it was made with canola oil not butter.  It can also be dairy free but I used the whole milk I had.

I made the layers using my hand held mixer as I have found that the stand mixer is too strong; it over-beats cakes.  Both layers rose well; I used those old school cake strips I have; they help make for level layers that aren’t overbaked on the edges. The cake texture was perfect; not heavy but not light; great crumb and moist.

I had made my own lemon curd the day before; used the Meyer lemons my brother Robert sends every year about now.  The recipe is actually calibrated with Meyer lemons but I am sure you can use standard lemons; will be a bit tarter.  It really added the perfect filling inside this cake; don’t be tempted to use more than half a cup as  your cake will have lemon curd running down the sides….not a good look.

Putting it together was tricky; the curd made the layers slide a touch so I put the whole thing in the freezer to chill and stabilize before I finished the icing. The topping per the recipe was fresh blackberries; got some at Aldi’s and put them around the edge and in the center.  My family gobbled up their slices. Everyone loved it and that is hard to accomplish!  Maybe the birthday cake curse is over…….

 

lemon cake layer

A few minor defects but it is tall and well baked.

The recipe can be found at glutenfreepalate.com/gluten-free-lemon-cake/

I didn’t use the icing used there; went with something less sweet. My citrus cream cheese icing recipe:

1 stick butter, at room temperature

4 ounces light cream cheese at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar; sift unless it is a new bag

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1  to 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Grated zest of one lemon, zest of half a navel orange (about a tsp)

Use hand mixer to fluff up butter; ;add cream cheese and blend well. Add powdered sugar 1/3 cup at a time on slow speed. Add extracts, one Tbsp. lemon juice and zest. Blend until fluffy adding more lemon juice if needed to reach a good spreading consistency.

lemon birthday cake

As you can see I am not a great decorator or a fantastic photog but  you get the idea of this rich lemony treat of a birthday cake!

You can buy some lemon curd. I made mine as I am an overachiever and I had all the ingredients; can be pricy stuff plus it tastes even better fresh. THe recipe I used is from the Cake Mix Doctor’s GF Cookbook;  2 large lemons, 3/4 c sugar, 2 large eggs and 6 Tbsp. butter melted and cooled somewhat.

Wash the lemons and dry. Grate the zest onto a plate lined with some wax paper. You need about a Tbsp of zest. I had to use most of a third lemon to get that much zest. Juice the two lemons; you want 1/4 to 1/3 cup juice. Put juice, sugar and eggs in medium sauce pan; heavy bottom and whisk until blended. Then add the melted butter and whisk. Heat pan on medium heat until it comes to a boil; you MUST keep whisking it constantly so it doesn’t burn. Once it reaches a boil I like to boil it up to a minute; stir like a mad woman (or man)! Take off heat; pour into a bowl and chill. You can strain it but I like the zest in mine and my lemon juicer strains off seeds so I don’t see that step as necessary. Chill it well before using; at least 2 hours. I made mine the night before. I had 8 oz leftover and am debating how best to enjoy it! lemon birthday cake slice

I used one small container of blackberries and a few more from a second container. Afterwards I wished I had put them all on there as the flavor of them is just perfect with this lemon cake.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! Enjoy!

lemon cake half cropped

Can you see the lemon curd layer? I used my three hole zester to make long strands of Meyer lemon zest to decorate after I put on the blackberries. Not too pretty but pretty darn delish!

 

Browned Butter Wedding Cake Cookies

These miniature snowball cookies were the foundation of the Christmas cookie baking when I was a kid.  They were always made every year, sometimes a second batch had to be baked as we ate them all before the big day!  You can use pecans but I rarely do; walnuts are cheaper and I sort of prefer their flavor.  Some people call them Mexican Wedding Cookies but we generally called them Russian Teacakes…but today I am giving you a variation I plan to try this Christmas baking season. I am making them with browned butter today! No change in ingredients; one extra step.

For me it is not Christmas without these cookies so I was extremely pleased to find a great gf recipe. My sisters think they are better tasting than the old regular recipe!

They are super easy to make with not too many ingredients.  Be careful lifting them off the pan as they are delicate until fully cooled. The texture and subtle flavor of this GF version is actually superior to the wheat flour recipe of my childhood. When you bite into one it shatters into a delicious mouthful of sweet cookie. They are delightful with a cup of tea or coffee.  My family clamors for a few to take home!

If you like them really sweet sprinkle on extra powdered sugar, less of it makes them perfect for those who are not used to too much sweetness. No one will ever know they are GF and you will get complements on their flavor and texture.  This recipe is from Annalise Roberts’ fabulous Gluten-Free Baking Classics with some minor changes by me and the browned butter idea which comes from Bon Appetit.  Enjoy: they are rather addictive cookies!

xmas cookies 006

Browned Butter Wedding Cake Cookies

1 cup salted butter, room temperature

6 tbsp. powdered (confectioners) sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups brown rice mix (King Arthur basic blend or see recipe below)

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 cup walnuts or pecans chopped fine

Confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling

Directions: Heat butter in a heavy sauce pan; swirl it around and NO NOT walk away! It can go from yellow to dark dark brown in a few seconds so stand there and watch closely until it gets lightly brown and then pull the pan off the heat and immediately pour into  your stand mixing bowl. Let it stand until it is mostly congealed into a solid mass. Then beat butter and powdered sugar in large bowl of stand mixer until light and creamy.  Add vanilla, beat in.  Add flour and gum, mix in until well blended, stir in walnuts until distributed.  Chill dough for an hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Form dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar if you like.  Place on cookie sheet lightly sprayed with Pam (not the baker’s version that has flour).  Place about 1 ½ inches apart.  Bake 13 to 15 minutes until lightly browned on top and bottom.  Cool on pan for 5 min and then sprinkle with lots of powdered sugar before placing on wire rack to cool. I like to sift it onto the cookies so the coating is even.  You could put a sheet of wax paper under the wire rack to catch the excess sugar.  Store well wrapped: in airtight container, in fridge for a week or freezer for up to 30 days.  You could store unbaked dough in fridge for a few days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix  (same as King Arthur gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch *not potato flour

1/3 c tapioca flour

Note: This wonderful cookie was first posted December 2014 on my blog.  Minor revisions have been made since then.

Hot and Sour Chinese Chicken Soup

Leftover roasted chicken, a can of bamboo shoots, freshly made chicken broth and scallions.  What to make?  Ah hah! Chinese hot and sour soup; even better than take out ever was when I could eat it and super simple.  Lots of stuff in it but just measure and dump basically.

Notes: you can use leftover roast chicken or pork as the protein or tofu if you want to be vegetarian. I like all the vegetables but leave any of them out if you wish. You can even leave out the noodles; I would use the cornstarch then to help it be a tad thicker.

hot and sour soup in pot

Hot and Sour Chinese Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

5 cups homemade chicken broth

about 3/4 cup broken rice noodles; I prefer extra wide size

2 garlic cloves

about 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2-3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar; can use red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. chili sauce

3 Tbsp. gf soy sauce

1/4 tsp. sriracha sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 stalk celery cut on the diagonal into thin slices

1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper; I cut it into 1 inch lengths

4 oz mushrooms; shiitake are traditional but you can use any fresh mushroom, sliced

1 8 oz can bamboo shoots; drained

1/2 cup petite frozen peas

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 cups roasted chicken cut in small chunks

2 eggs

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

4 green onions (scallions)

Pour the broth into a large saucepan. Start it heating on medium.  While it heats heat 3 cups of water to boiling and add 1/2-3/4 cup broken rice noodles; I used extra wide size. Let stand 9 minutes. Add minced garlic, grated ginger, two vinegars, chili sauce, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, celery slices, red pepper strips, bamboo shoots and mushrooms to the heating broth. Cook 5 minutes. Add peas, black pepper and roasted chicken. Then the rice noodles which you have drained. Beat the eggs up and add them, and then the sesame oil and the scallions. I like to add the white part of my scallions a minute earlier than this as I don’t like them raw; up to you! Stir as you add the eggs.  Turn off heat. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Pour into bowls; makes about 5 servings.hot and sour soup in bowl

Notes; some folks add corn starch mixed with cold water to thicken it. I like the broth thin and brothy but you can do the cornstarch; 2 Tbsp. mixed with same amount cold water; add after the initial 5 minutes of cooking. This recipe is the one where you really need that homemade chicken broth; it is critical to the perfect flavor but use what ever you have and all will be amazed at your Chinese cooking skills. Enjoy!

Turkey Posole Stew; Different and Delish!

I am betting you have some roast turkey in the fridge or freezer, maybe a pint of gravy too?  Well, I have just the recipe for you, courtesy of Rachel Ray and foodnetwork.com.  It is nothing like most traditional turkey leftover recipes.  It is a Mexican stew.  Posale stew can easily be gluten free. Just use care choosing your chicken broth and your tortilla chips that accompany this savory soup.

I have been making it every fall after Thanksgiving and always look forward to a few bowls of it.  Spicy, crunchy, tangy; unlike any other soup I make.  It is called turkey posole. It can be made with roasted pork and I have done so.  I like it far better with roast turkey.  I have served this stew to many people and it is always well received and enjoyed, even by my elderly mother.  I made it tonight and it was so delish!

Ingredients

2 tbsp mild olive oil or canola oil

2 medium onions chopped

4 cloves garlic chopped fine

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped fine –use two if you like it spicy, I use one!

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 GF beer (can use 1 cup water if you want but it gives more flavor)

Coarse salt and pepper

12-16 tomatillos; about 2 lbs, take off the paper cover and chop up.  Can coarsely chop in food processor

5-6 sprigs fresh thyme; chop it up off the stems.

2   15 ounce cans hominy

1.5 qt chicken stock (can be part gravy)

1 ½ to 2 lbs chopped turkey meat; can be mixture of light and dark

1 lime juiced

Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish (optional)

Tortilla chips; the ones with lime go particularly well with this.

tomatillos

Cook first six ingredients about 5 min in a large stock pot.  Add beer or water, cook one minute.  Add chopped tomatillos and cook 5-6 minutes until softened.  Add hominy, thyme and stock and cook 15 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  Add lime juice, stir well.  I never use cilantro; something I just don’t like, but feel free to add it as the original recipe uses a bunch of it.turkey posole soup

 

THen ladle the posole into bowls and serve lots of white tortilla chips to crunch over the top of the hot soup.  As the soup disappears from my bowl I like to add more chips to keep the crunch going.

Notes:  I halved the garlic and tomatillos this time. Used most of a good sized jalapeno pepper and two cans of hominy. I used a cup and a quarter of water for the beer and a carton of gf chicken broth. No gravy this time.  It was delish!

tomatillos

The more jalapeno pepper you add the hotter it will be. I have tried canned tomatillos and they are not really a good substitute.  You can get them fresh (found near the fresh tomatoes) in many stores including Giant.  They are used in Hispanic and Mexican cooking and add a lot of flavor and tartness to the soup. I have heard that some folks use salsa verde instead of tomatillos but it really isn’t hard to chop them up so I recommend the real deal.

Hominy is a corn product; whole kernels soaked in lye to swell and soften.  The kernels have a mild corn flavor plus they soak up other flavors quickly and add a certain texture and body to the stew.

The wild turkey is native to North America and one turkey species is originally from Mexico.  So turkey is a natural component in this stew.  The Aztecs revered corn and liked to cook it with meat.  Tomatillos are native to Mexico, related to cape gooseberries.  They are used in salsa verde and other Mexican dishes. So this compilation of turkey, corn, tomatillos and lime is a natural combination that will be easy to make and fun to eat. Go on, be adventurous and enjoy a steaming hot bowl of delicious posole and use up that turkey in a totally different way!