Monday, February 21, 2011

Swedish Delights

'Semlor' simply means 'buns' in Swedish. A treat that's enjoyed every February, H tells me that it started as something the Swedes would enjoy for one day of the year, which then extended to one week. Now, Semlor (or 'semla', in singular) are available from Christmas to Easter (according to Wikipedia).

Since arriving in Sweden, H has been telling me that I must try these, as they're a huge tradition. They're simple sweet buns, filled with marzipan & cream, topped with some more cream then capped off with the top of the bun that is cut off. Not being able to eat wheat, I decided to take the challenge of making my own allergy-friendly version for Christmas this year. The first batch was a success, which I was able to enjoy with my new family while they ate their traditional Semlor. With this month's SOS challenge being stevia, I decided to create them again, this time making vegan-friendly alterations.

While these don't look the same as the traditional ones (I use hazelnut butter in place of the almonds, as I'm intolerant to almonds), they're still delicious, filling & nutritious.

It's a little bit of work in crafting these yummy buns, but it's also part of the fun. Once baked, the middle of the bun is dug out, with the filling placed in a bowl. Mixed in with the nut paste & cream, this mixture is placed back into the bun, then topped with cream. The traditional buns have a cap placed on top, but I found this too fiddly as they are quite small, & the bun can crumble. So I skip that step, but still have a delicious end result.

½ Cup (120ml) coconut flour
100mls coconut milk
25mls coconut oil, melted
1 egg (vegan substitute: 1 tablespoon (15mls) psyllium husk with 3 tablespoons of water)
1 teaspoon (5mls) vanilla
1ml white stevia
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon of bicarb soda
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

175g roasted hazelnuts (or whatever roasted nuts you prefer - almonds are traditionally used.)
stevia to taste
Coconut cream, whipped

Coconut cream, whipped

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Sift the coconut flour, vanilla, salt, bicarb & baking soda into a bowl (if using psyllium husk, add this to the bowl as well. If using an egg, whisk in a separate bowl).
3. Melt the coconut in a saucepan on low heat. Once melted, add the coconut milk & warm. Remove from heat & add to the dry mix. Add remaining wet ingredients (either the 3 tablespoons of water or the whisked egg) & stir together. (If the batter is too wet, add more flour)
4. Roll small handfuls of the batter & place into either a greased muffin tray or muffin cups. Glaze with a little coconut milk.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven & cool (yeilds about 6 semlor)

For the filling:
1. In a food processor, grind the nuts into a paste. This may take about 10 minutes. You may need to drizzle some water (I added a tiny bit of coconut milk) to get it smooth enough for a paste.
2. Add stevia to taste as it's blending (choose whatever level of sweetness you'd prefer). Once ready, transfer to a bowl.
3. Whip the coconut cream (I just gather the coconut cream from an unshaken can of coconut milk)
4. Spoon the middle of a semla into a bowl. Add nut paste & coconut cream (about equal amounts of each compared to what's been spooned out of the bun) & mix together. Spoon back into the bun.
5. Top with whipped coconut cream.
6. Enjoy! They're delicious!

H watches me curiously as I make these, & is very happy that I can enjoy some Swedish sweets. I'm going to attempt more allergy-friendly recreations. I look forward to sharing them with you!

This has been submitted to Ricki & Kim's SOS challenge & Amy's Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Thursday, February 17, 2011

With Love

I'm not one who usually celebrates Valentine's Day. The cheesy cards, overpriced flowers, & saving one day to celebrate your love? No thanks, I prefer to give that sentiment on a daily basis.

However, this time around, I thought I'd break my own tradition & do something different. But still in a corny yet fun fashion. Since I don't have a job at the moment, but gather much pleasure from playing in the kitchen, I decided to treat H to some special home-made foods that I don't make so often.

& all in the shape of hearts. Oh, the love!

I don't eat pizza much. I love cheese, but it doesn't love me back in a very nice way. While it's not as bad as when I started on my anti-Candida diet, it still inflates my stomach, & I can feel it make its way through my intestines a few hours later. So it's very much a now & then indulgence, generally when I don't have to do anything for the rest of the night, or no band demands for the following days.

The base for these are incredibly simple. I base them from a recipe I found here, substituting coconut flour for quinoa, & adding oregano & garlic powder to the batter. To follow for dessert, I made heart-shaped raspberry chocolate cookies. Oh, the love!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Ultimate in Flavours

I'm going to share with you now something that I discovered the other day, then ventured to make for myself.

Chocolate cookie goodness, with something surprising in the mix

What are they? Well, obviously something with glorious chocolate involved. Chocolate is something I haven't been able to have for almost a year. After I cut sugar & carbs out of my diet, I was still indulging in cocoa mixed with milk & sweetener. I was still getting over my lack of sugary delights in my diet, & it was something that I was making to compensate. But as I learnt more about Candida, & better understood the reactions I was getting, I realised that cocoa was causing issues. After I would have my mousse creation, I would still incur cramps, gas & bloating. It wasn't long till I realised that I had to give up cocoa too, adding to the growing list of things under the simple heading of 'No'.

Forward about 10 months later, & after tiring of closing so many recipe pages down when I saw the listing of 'cocoa' or 'cacao', in the ingredients list, I decided to give raw cacao a go. Realising that the fermentation process may have been upsetting my stomach, & after being on the anti-candida diet for so long, I decided to give the mighty cocoa bean one more chance. I bought a small amount of raw cacao from a local health food store, & tried a tiny amount mixed with coconut flour, vanilla, sweetener & milk (a little pudding mix I make for myself when I want something sweet but don't feel like baking). No reactions. So I kept trying here & there, & finding that I was ok with cacao, finally. The raw kind, at least.

So when I came across the concept of bacon chocolate cookies, I felt an internal explosion of sorts. Bacon, with chocolate!? It seems this phenomenon has existed for a while, but it was something I was completely out of the loop about.

Bacon. Chocolate. Cookies! Could there be a better combination of foods & flavours?!!? Ok, depending on your deposition, the answer could be different. But for me... I love bacon. I love chocolate. I was a vegetarian for two stints lasting 10 years in total, & when I had bacon again after relinquishing my vegetarian ways (for good as well, but I have my own personal reasons for that), I couldn't believe that I had gone so long without it. Now, after having a long time without chocolate, it's nice to savour the taste of that again too.

Look at those little hints of bacon, melded amongst the
crumbly, moist goodness of the chocolate cookie.
Oh, such a sight!

I couldn't stop thinking of making these when I found them. I devised the recipe in my mind, writing down my ideas for how to make my version of them, while referencing some recipes on the net. Then I gave them a go. & oh, how I love them!

They're wonderfully moist, salty & sweet, meaty bits of bacon sitting in the soft, chocolate casing. I am in love!

Bacon Chocolate Cookies
(Sugar-free, wheat-free)

65mls (½dl + 1 tablespoon) coconut flour
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon butter, plus 1 teapsoon for cooking the bacon
1 egg
50mls milk
20mls (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) raw cacao
1ml white stevia
4 strips of bacon
½ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon bicarb soda

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Cook bacon in a pan with 1 teaspoon of butter. Allow to cool & dice. (Save the fat left over from cooking the bacon into a bowl)
3. In the same pan, melt the coconut & butter, collecting the cooked flavours of the bacon into the butter & coconut mix. Pour into the bowl containing the residue bacon fat.
4. Mix the cacao into the melted coconut, butter & bacon fat.
5. In another bowl, sift the flour, white stevia, vanilla & bicarb soda.
6. Whisk egg in a separate bowl. Making a well with the flour, add the egg, milk, butter/coconut/bacon fat mix, bacon & mix together. The batter should be rather wet.
7. Place some baking paper on a tray & using a spoon, drop the batter onto the tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Yields about 10 cookies

I also made bacon gingerbread pancakes that morning, based on a recipe from Gluten Free Girl & The Chef's Pork & Spoon site. I was having a definite bacon fest that day!

I've also added this recipe to Brittany's Seasonal Sundays session & Amy's Slightly Indulgent Tuesday