Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

With money magically disappearing from my bank account I’m finding myself lacking in many of my staple baking ingredients.  Whats even worse is that I have no way to replenish my pantry until my next paycheck.  Why do gluten free flours have to be so goddamned expensive?!… Oh well, c’est la vie de le cuisine sans gluten.  

Enter the wonders of almond flour and DIY oat-flour.  I made two variations on the batch.  They both came out great but the first batch was the favorite in my house.  Batch #1 is shown in the photo here and batch #2 was a plumper cookie rolled in toasted coconut. 

This recipe is so fuckin simple.  If you’re even a little bit health conscious you should be able to find all the necessities in your pantry.  It only uses a few simple ingredients that are pretty much staples in any vegan pantry (at least my pantry).  If you don’t already have these ingredients you probably shouldn’t even be reading this.  

I made my own flours for the dough out of some leftover almonds and oatmeal I had laying around; two items I consume on a daily basis so I always have them on hand for emergency snacking purposes.  All you gotta do is simply drop ‘em in a high speed blender or food processor until a flour is formed… and wallah!

Told you!  Fuckin easy.  I even baked these in a convention oven (toaster….) since my oven is still broken.  

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The recipe for these scrumptious morsels went a little something like this:

Dry Ingredients:

- 1 cup almond flour

- 1 cup gluten free oat flour

- 1/4 tsp sea salt

- 1/4 tsp cinnamon

- 1/4 tsp ground ginger

- 1 tsp baking powder

- 1 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients:

- 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil

- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- 1/2 tsp almond extract (no biggie if you don’t have it, the cooks just won’t be as almond-y)

- 1/2 cup organic white cane sugar

- 1 tbs maple syrup (way better than agave in my opinion… plus not nearly as processed)

- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks

- 1 tbs balsamic vinegar (again, no problemo if you don’t have some balsam laying around, I’m just kinda into it right now)

Methodology:

- Preheat your oven to 375F

- Mix together all of the dry ingredients

- Incorporate all of the wet ingredients

- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet.  About half way through adding the dry stuff, fold in the chocolate chips then continue to add the rest of the dry shit.  

- Scoop out the cookie dough onto a greased sheet and bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes rotating the cookie sheet 180 degrees half-way through.  

- Quickly consume all of the cookies alone in your room with the lights turned out while listening to Morrissey…

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Beers to Write Home About: Surly Brewing

So for this week, I’ve been into some of the fine canned goods from the Minnesota brewery, Surly

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Surly Brewery previously had their beers in the Chicago market a few years back but due to their local demand they pulled distribution from outside of their immediate market (sigh).  But this past winter Chicago welcomed the resurrection of Surly and the high fives and drunken belly bumps still haven’t stopped.  

The first of their beers that I had the pleasure of trying was their flagship IPA, Furious.  Furious has really become one of my go-to beers when I don’t really want to spend an hour browsing the beer aisle.  It has such a pleasant balance of bitterness and sweetness that keeps you coming back for more.  Between all those American hops and the malty, biscuity goodness, this beer hits all the right notes.  Furious starts off with a bright floral aroma followed by some nice grapefruit-citrus hoppiness throughout the tongue that ride all the way through the finish.  Furious is definitely one of the smoothest and most enjoyable IPAs I’ve had.  

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The next beer from Surly is their west coast style IPA called Overratted.  This beer is excellent.  Although I don’t get quite as turned on by this one, it’s still great IPA.  Similar to Furious, you get a lot of that citrus sweetness, some grapefruit and mango vibes but even more so.  Guess that’s the west coast style to a T.  Overratted is basically like a tropical, less malty, more hop forward version of Furious.

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The third Surly Cerveza that I had the pleasure of having for the first time this past week is their Saison, CynicAle.  Let me tell you, this shit is good.  I’ve been really into the Saison style since the warm weather finally stuck it’s head out of it’s ass and I can’t really think of a better style for patio pounding.  

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CynicAle is up in my top 3 for the style.  It’s light, crisp, and refreshing.  Definitely something you’re gonna want this summer.  It has such a nice combo between the belgian yeast and malt sweetness but then all of the sudden does a backflip and showcases a surprising burst of hops on the finish.  The aroma is phenolic, slightly grassy and sweet.  You get some wheat-y sweetness along with some lemon zest and banana bread.  Drinkable, complex, and keeps you coming back for another sip.  

Last but definitely not least, is my favorite from Surly which is their Double IPA, appropriately dubbed Abrasive.  In the aroma you get a smacked in the face with hops on hops on hops quickly followed by citrus, toffee, and caramel.  On the tongue there’s even more pungent bitterness.  Abrasive is flavor blasted with tons of tart orange pith, fresh mango and a big bready malt backbone.  Sweet, astringent, vegetal in character and extra extra dank in all the best ways.  

The finish leaves you super dry… or should I say ‘abrasively’ dry.  You get even more hop notes on the back end with an almost lemon rindness that makes you pucker a bit after swallowing.

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If you see Surly on shelves definitely give it a try.  Their Bender, as well as the Coffee Bender are both super tasty.  I also have to mention Darkness which is one of my favorite imperial stouts but you can read all about that guy in a previous post dedicated specifically to the devastating brew.  

Beers to Write Home About: 5Rabbit Cerveceria

This post is going to be the first of a new weekly series on craft beer.  In it, I’ll be sharing my tasting notes and some other random thoughts that come to mind as I sit down and interview some tasty bevs from a selected brewery.  I’m going to call this series “Beers to Write Home About.” 

So without further ado, here’s the first of many posts to come. 

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been finding myself more often than not sipping on a beer from the local Chicago Brewery 5Rabbit Cerveceria.  This brewery offers a great variety of staple year-round brews as well as some seasonal beers that’ll knock your socks off.  

When you look deep into the industry of craft beer there is a strong, tight nit culture within the threshold of each brewery’s surrounding community.  More and more breweries are embodying the flavor of their local neighborhood. 5Rabbit Cerveceria is one such example.  With their innovation on creating an individual style and flavor that is modern in method yet antique in influence, this brewery is bringing the latin flair and passion to the market.  They are showcasing that massive Latin American demographic  nestled right in the heart of Chicago, IL.  Something definitely to be admired

Every single one of their craft beers exhibit very unique recipes.  For example, they are pairing classic Latin American ingredients to create an array of tasty choices for the drinker.  For example, in Huitzi they blend hops and malts with hibiscus flowers, ginger, thai palm sugar, and local Chicago honey to create a special bouquet of complexity that literally blossoms on the palate.  

The flavor profiles aren’t the only unique take on their craft beers.  Behind each brew-concept is rich Indigenous Aztecan culture.  Almost every beer is fittingly named after an Aztec mythological deity (with the exception of their some of their seasonal offerings as well as their Gringolandia series which aims to impart a Latin presence in western style beers) such as in their winter seasonal Huitzi, “the Aztec hummingbird god Huitzilopoctli who smashed the winter to allow the sun to return, Huitzi looks forward to the brighter promise of spring”, as described by their websites.  

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Another riquísimo example of 5Rabbit is their seasonal Ki’Chun, which means “tasty start.”  This bev is a Imperial Red Ale brewed with the addition of chanterelle mushrooms, Rakou hops, belgian yeast, and Thai Palm sugar.  

On the nose you get a nice bouquet of dried mangos and apricots with a little bit of banana bread-y-ness imparted by that belgian yeast.  The taste is similar to the aroma in that you get even more of belgian yeast along with some of the sweet and lightness that the Thai Palm sugar imparts.  On the back end you get some tropical fruit, toasted oat, and banana peel to round out the flavor.  The dryness from the oats gives a nice contrast to the sweeter aspects of the beer.

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This is a tasty bev from a tasty brewery.  Give ‘em a shot.  You won’t be sorry…

Cinnamon Sugar Blondies

This latest creation finds me searching for the lighter flavors of summer to incorporate into a light, moist, and uber decadent summertime post-dinner muncheroo.  As soon as this came out of the oven I new it was going to be a hit.  The real inspiration for this recipe actually came from my craving for those snickerdoodle cookies they used to sell at the mall when I was a kid.  You know, those overly large sugar cookies that were garnished with cinnamon sugar and sometimes sprinkles.  I always preferred those over the similarly grand chocolate chip varietal.  

The addition of almond meal gives it a subtle nutty flavor that compliments the vanilla while the small amount of powdered sugar lends it a really nice light texture.  

Oh, and I can’t forget about that hazelnut extract!  An ingredient that I’ve been playing around with lately.  It gives baked goods a really interesting complexity that I absolutely can’t get enough of.  

Welp, here ya go:

Dry Ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour

- 1/4 cup almond flour

- 1/4 cup oat flour

- 1 tsp xantham gum

- 1/2 tsp sea salt

- 1/4 tsp cinnamon

- 1 tsp baking powder

- 3/4 tsp baking soda

- 1/2 cup diced almonds

Wet Ingredients:

- 1/3 cup Extra virgin coconut oil

- 1/3 cup brown sugar

- 1/3 cup Raw white cane sugar

- 2 tbs powder sugar

- 2 tsp vanilla extract

- 1/4 tsp hazlenut extract

- 1 flax egg

- 3/4 C buttermilk (3/4 cup almond milk + 1 tbs ACV)

Methodology:

- Sift all dry ingredients except for the crushed almonds in a bowl. 

- Add 1 tbs ground flax seed with 3 tbs warm water and set aside for about 10 minutes

- add 3/4 cup of almond/soy milk with 1 tbs of ACV and set aside to curdle.  About 10 minutes. 

- In a separate bowl stir together all the wet ingredients. 

- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet then fold in the crushed almonds.  

Garnish:

- 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar

- 1/4 cup Brown sugar

- enough cinnamon sugar to lightly coat the top of the Blondies

- Pour balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a sall bowl.  Slice about six strawberries, add them to the mixture and leave in the fridge for about thirty minutes.  Garnish the Blondies with the strawberries and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over top before setting it in the oven.  

Give it a go.  Customer satisfaction guaranteed.  

Maple Chocolate Cupcakes with PB, Banana, and Date Ganache

Woah, were these good.  Probably the most decadent creation I’ve made in the past couple of weeks.  I don’t usually use this amount of sugar in my recipes but when you’re making cupcakes (or anything cakey, really) you kind of need it.  I mean, why go out of your way to bake a cake that is bland.  Isn’t the point of “sweets” to be, well, sweet?  My thought exactly. And that is one of the things I love about baking.  Experimenting with all different types of “natural” sweeteners.  

*And to be honest, there actually is less than half of the amount of sugar in my cupcakes than what goes into traditional cupcakes.  Oh, and I did already say this but I use much healthier natural versions of the sweet stuff, the frosting doesn’t even have any sugar besides the sweetness of the bananas and it is amazing (I totally wasn’t eating spoonfuls of it from the bowl…). 

So don’t be shy.  Have a lil nibble.  You won’t regret it.  

Dry Ingredients:

- 1 cup gluten free flour (Bob’s Red Mill)

- 1/4 cup oat flour

- 1/4 cup almond flour

- 1 tbs corn starch

- 3/4 tsp xantham gum

- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

- 1/2 tsp baking powder

- 1/4 tsp sea salt

- 1/4 tsp cinnamon

- 1/3 cup cacao powder

Wet ingredients

- 1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil

- 1/2 cup brown sugar

- 1/4 maple syrup

- 2 tbs agave nectar

- 2 tbs raw peanut butter

- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract

- 1/4 tsp almond extract

- 1 cup buttermilk (for this one 1 C Almond Milk + 1 tbs ACV + 2 tsp flax)

- 1 flax egg

Methodology:

- Set oven to 350 F

- Make your flax egg and combine almond milk, apple cider vinegar, and flax and set aside for about ten minutes.

- In a bowl combine all of the dry ingredients.  

- In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients and mix well.

- Once the wet and dry ingredients mixed in separate bowls add the “milk” and “egg” to the wet bowl and stir. 

- Slowly combine the dry ingredients to the wet bowl. 

- Lightly grease a cupcake sheet or line it with cupcake dresses and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out all clean-like. 

Peanut Butter, Banana, Date Ganache

Ingredients:

- 5 frozen bananas

- 1/2 cup of peanut butter

- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

- Thaw bananas for about two hours prior to blending so that they are soft but still frozen at the core. 

- Add everything to a high speed blender and process till very smooth

- Pour ganache in a bowl and place the freezer for about 30 minutes or until it is set and spreadable

- Ice the shit outta those cupcakes

*Pro tip: If you have the technology, stuff the center of the cupcakes in addition to frosting them, you’ll thank me later.  

A Tasty Note “Founders KBS 2014”

The ‘ol Kentucky Bourbon Stout.  The brew that is true.  

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Here’s what I took from this drinkie:

Empties into the chalice with the palace pitch black with a half a finger of foam and tons of sticky legs.  Big aroma of vanilla and coffee come to the front with some elegant bourbon heat and dark chocolate kindling to keep the fire ablaze.  The stout has a big fat body and chewy, almost pudding like feel as it cloyingly coats the tongue with sweet vanilla and molasses.  

With the taste you get an even bigger, tender embrace of vanilla and sweet chocolate with a butt of cherry-like fruitiness.  Sweet but not over abrasive on the tongue.  Reminds me of drinking a mocha or chocolate chip latte.  

(Or a subtle little frenchie on the mouth)

The bourbon is not very active in the taste but you can definitely tell it’s there making this one very smooth all the way down.  

(Again, like a tender little smakaroo…  but maybe a bit wet) 

Chocolate dipped cherries, coffee and a bit of oaky smoothness balanced by some dipped black cherries on the back-end gives this stout a dry finish leaving your mouth coated…

making me think now of a wet smooch after she just ate a double dark chocolate, vanilla/bourbon ganache filled donut (that I had one time from the Cinnamon Snail Food truck in NYC).  She then proceeded to then brake into the food truck, lick the icing bowl clean, come back out to me and spit in my mouth…

but in a good way…  

Guess that’s not so much a kiss anymore,

and I’m kinda starting to think she’s an asshole.  

I have a few of these so it’ll be fun to see how it tastes in a year.. or two or three.  I’m hoping it tastes like a hotdog.  

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Austin Cool

Hey look. 

Got spotted for my stylez

http://www.collegefashionista.com/style-advice-of-the-week-the-perennial-jacket/

I’ll go ahead and fill you in on what I’m wearin:

Jacket: Blue Island Leather Biker Jacket (I wasn’t vegan when I made the purchase… Didn’t see a reason to just throw it out)

Shirt: J-Crew Slim Plaid Button Down

Pants:  American Apparel Slim Slack

Socks: Etiquette Clothiers Patterned Socks

Shoes:  John Varvatos Dessert Boots

*Blush* “Besides his adorable looks, our subject today stood from the crowd with his special attention to detail. From his cuffed jeans, to the printed socks and his suede shoes, one can’t help but swoon at his modern take of greaser inspiration.”

Savory Garlic Rosemary Corn Bread Scones

Lately I’ve been on a huge corn meal kick.  I’ve been experimenting with a few different baking concepts using the grainy substance.  From making savory baked goods with Corn to even using it in sweet baked goods, such as my latest creation of corn meal brownies, I can’t get enough of the stuff right now.  No idea why this affinity sprouted up but the possibilities seem endless using this ingredient.  

For this post, I selected my favorite of the corn creations that I’ve made so far.  I’ve actually made this recipe a few times now in the past couple of weeks because of how much I love it!  It pairs well by itself, toasted with some jam, or even as a vehicle for dips (I made some spicy red lentil hummus the first time I made the scones and they were absofruitly amazing together.  

This will surely become a staple in my arsenal of go-to recipes this summer.  

Recipe here, get:

Dry Ingredients:

- 1 cup gluten free flour

- 1 cup organic corn meal

- 1 tsp xantham gum

- 1/2 tsp sea salt

- 1 tsp baking powder

- 1/2 tsp baking soda

- 1 tbs nutritional yeast

- 1 tsp garlic powder

- 1 tsp onion powder

- 1 tsp oregano

- tsp paprika

- Enough fresh rosemary for garnishing the top

Wet Ingredients:

- 1 flax egg

- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar 

- 1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil

- 1 tbs organic agave nectar

Methodology:

- Make your flax egg and combine almond milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside for about ten minutes

- In a bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and spices and in a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients

- Once the wet and dry are together add the “milk” and “egg” to the wet bowl and stir. 

- Slowly combine the dry ingredients to the wet bowl. 

Once everything is incorporated divide the dough into two balls then spread each ball one-at-a-time to a lightly greased cooking sheet and top with the fresh rosemary.  

- With a wet sharp knife cut in diagonals, almost creating a “peace sign” into the dough and bake at 375 F for 12-15 minutes.  

*Warning to reader*  whole consumption of bread is 95% likely within first ten minutes of completion

Vegan Gluten-Free Banana Bread: OhMmmn

One of the few perks of working at Whole Foods is getting some free vegan food every now and then.  The other night the produce department came over to my side of the store with a few cases of bananas and let us take home the ones that were too ripe to sell the next day.  Of coarse I took full advantage and ended up taking about 10 dozen with me on my way out of the door (I biked home with two full bags of bananas.. in the snow.. butt naked..)…

Anyways, I now have a freezer full of bananas just waiting for me to take their peels off.  

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And what better a way to undress a few bananas then to make some Banana Bread outta them!

I have a deep seeded love for banana bread.  It’s one of those treats that is very nostalgic for me.  Everytime I make/eat banana bread I’m always transported back to the days of being a child, basking in the beautiful aroma that filled the kitchen whenever my mom baked it.  I would wait impatiently next to the oven for the loaves of banana bread to finish baking then slice into it and lather it in butter way before it even finished cooling.  

This latest recipe for Banana Bread came out so fuckin delicious that I scarfed down multiple slices in just a few minutes!  The texture was absolutely amazing: fluffy, super moist, with a nice outer crust that it held together perfectly unlike other attempts I’ve had in the past.

Here’s the ish I used for this Banana Bread adventure

Dry Ingredients:

- 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour

- 1/2 oat flour

- 1/2 tsp xantham gum

- 1/4 tsp sea salt

- 1/2 tsp baking powder

- 1/2 tsp baking soda

- 1/4 tsp ground cloves

- 1/4 tsp anise

- 1/4 tsp nutmeg

- 3/4 cup ground/crushed almonds plus a little extra for garnish

Wet Ingredients:

- 1/3 cups organic virgin coconut oil

- 4 over ripe bananas

- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

- 1/3 cup organic brown sugar

- 2 tbs organic maple syrup

- 1/2 cup un-sweetened almond milk

- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

- 1 flax “egg”

Method:

- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

- Add the apple cider vinegar to the almond milk and set aside to curdle

- Make your flax egg (1tbs ground flax + 3 tbs warm water).

- Mash the bananas or process them in a blender till everything is gooey

- Incorporate all of the wet ingredients and mix well

- Sift together dry ingredients then add slowly to the wet ingredients

- Half way through mixing the dry and wet ingredients fold in the ground almonds.  

- Pour batter into a greased 9x5 loaf pan, sprinkle some of the left over almonds on top, and place in the oven four 65 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.  

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*Pro tip:  Toast a slice of the banana bread and smother it in some raw peanut butter for a decadent Elvis-style treat.  

Deschutes The Abyss

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It’s black as night as it resonates it’s dark frothy head out of the shadows and into the room.  Not a single particle of light is able to break through the clutches of the thick body.  It’s tangibility is only present in the glass that contains it.  As it tries to break through it’s infinite prison of glass, Abyss releases robust fumes of dark chocolate, even darker malts, and dare I say black strap molasses extracted from a forest that no man nor woman can name.  As I gain courage to greet this creature I am becoming aware of it’s thick, sticky, and abrasively cloying nature.  As it sits up I am in full view of a huge body covered in threads of bitter licorice soaked in heated bourbon.  As I look further, the monster’s limbs seem to be made out of pairs of burly oak tree trunks that could smash through concrete.  As it stands up it’s heavy oak limbs are only balance by the presence of a dark roasted malt body masked in callouses of chocolate that are concealed in bourbon soaked garments that blend with it’s bodily perspiration that resonates vanilla and molasses.  

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As it exhales a massive breath, I am left covered in fumes of dark, dank fruits with a strong presence of bourbon hitting me straight in the face.  This creature is more bitter than most other entities that I have encountered on past journeys through the dark corridors of Russian Imperial Stouts.  But don’t get me wrong, I am glad to have made it’s acquaintance.  

Cheers, Chicago.  A toast to this infinite winter.