One of the most popular questions I get when I post a recipe is “Is the dish gluten-free?” or “Can you make a gluten-free version?” Sometimes the answers are harder than I’d like, because I’m not an authority on gluten-free foods. And you really have to pay attention to the ingredients you cook with: gluten can be hiding almost anywhere, including places you’d never suspect.
The reverse can also be true: many dishes are naturally gluten-free. It all depends on the kind of ingredients you’re using. Except for when a main ingredient is bread, which makes creating gluten-free sandwiches a challenge. Though I’m not an expert on all things gluten-free, I have a friend who is: Carlyn Berghoff. You may know Carlyn as the 4th-generation owner of The Berghoff Restaurant in Chicago’s Loop. Besides being an accomplished chef, caterer and businessperson, Carlyn is a mom to three teens – one of whom has celiac disease.
For the past few years, Carlyn has made it her mission to rid her home of gluten. She and her family have been sharing their journey to be gluten-free on GFFamilyFood.com. That’s where you’ll find this easy recipe for gluten-free sandwich bread, so you can have the foundation to create your own gluten-free sandwich masterpieces.
If you’ve not been to The Berghoff Restaurant lately, be sure to check out all the gluten-free options on the menu. One of the most festive places to be in Chicago during the holidays is inside The Berghoff Restaurant. My favorite is the giant nutcracker (he’s taller than me!) that greets you as you enter the restaurant. Stop by during the holidays, when the entire dining room is decked out, to take a photo with Santa or enjoy a slice of apple strudel (an authentic German holiday tradition).
IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT ‘DIE WEIHNACHTSGURKE’ (pickle in the tree)
From now until December 24 at The Berghoff Restaurant, any child (under the age of 12) who finds the pickle ornament in Berghoff’s Christmas tree, will receive a complimentary Berghoff Root Beer. Did you know that Berghoff’s makes its own orange, black cherry and root beer sodas? My favorite is the diet root beer. Yum!
What’s better than making banana bread on National Banana Bread Day? Having someone else make it for you! And when that someone is Aussie Guy Turland of Bondi Harvest, you know it’s going to be spiffy!
For as much as I like to bake sweet treats, I often find the challenge of savory baked goods to be more rewarding. Perhaps it’s because when spices are on the center stage in a recipe there can be so many more possibilities to explore with a flavor profile.
When it comes to condiments or spices (and minerals in the case of salt!), I am a purist at heart. I don’t have ketchup in my home, and the only time I recall happily eating ketchup is on a Burger King Whopper. [The sugar in the ketchup is a nice balance to the pickle.] But in my pantry, you’ll easily find about five varieties of mustard and a number of different barbecue sauces. And – of course – freshly ground black pepper is a constant favorite as a cook and an eater!
I am a long-time fan of using sea salt and kosher salt in recipes, so when I heard about the SaltWorks Fall Recipe Contest I decided to give it a shot. I dusted off six years of recipes from the Baked Chicago blog and found a bacon popover recipe I created about one year ago in which black pepper was the lead ingredient. So I re-envisioned the recipe with smoked salt as the main ingredient to compliment the smokiness of the bacon. And as any good popover recipe does, it also has lots of butter. The result is this recipe for Bonfire® Bacon Popovers, which placed as a runner up in the SaltWorks recipe contest. The coolest thing about being a runner up is the prize: a bamboo salt sampler case filled with 24 artisan salts. I can’t wait to experiment with the Hiwa Kai – Hawaiian Black Lava Salt; maybe I’ll need to schedule a working vacay to Hawaii to do some “research.” That’s the ticket!
Preheat your oven to 425° F. Generously butter a popover pan (or standard muffin tin with 12 cups), and set aside.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and let cool. Coarsely chop the bacon into small bacon bits and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, Bonfire® Extra Bold Smoked Sea Salt and black pepper in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together until well blended. Gently whisk in the flour mixture, followed by 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Gently fold in the crispy, chopped bacon. Do not overmix.
Pour batter into the prepared popover pan, filling about 3/4 full and dividing equally. Bake the popovers for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. The popovers should be crispy around the edges. Using a spatula, remove popovers from the pan and serve immediately.
Got a ways to travel this Thanksgiving but still want to bring a dish for the holiday table? Try this recipe for bacon, sour cream & chives dinner rolls. It travels well and you can make it up to 48 hours in advance.
Combine 1 cup of flour, brown sugar, undissolved yeast and salt in a large mixing bowl. Heat the sour cream, water and butter until very warm (about 120 F or 130 F degrees). Add to the flour mixture and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer.
Add the egg and remaining flour. Fold in the chives and bacon. Set aside for a moment.
Preheat your oven to 400 F degrees. Generously grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
Spoon the dough evenly among the 12 muffin cups in the prepared baking pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise until it has doubled in size, about one hour.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and cool dinner rolls on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few days. Then gently rewarm before serving in a 200 F degree oven for about 10 minutes.
While I’m mentally getting ready for the holiday season, my body is not ready for this cold snap we’ve had in Chicago these past few days. The below-freezing temperatures have me feeling a bit achy, which has me craving some warm comfort food that I can whip up in a flash. This recipe for pumpkin bread infused with crunchy peanut butter and whole grain granola is perfect for the microwave, and cooks in about 90 seconds.
Grab a large microwave-safe mug. I recommend a cup that holds at least 16 ounces. Spray the inside of the mug lightly with non-stick spray for easier cleanup.
In the mug, add the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cloves and cinnamon. Next add the wet ingredients: egg, peanut butter, vegetable oil and pumpkin puree. Mix together until smooth, then fold in the granola. I like to use KIND Peanut Butter Whole Grain Clusters for an extra crunchy texture and stronger peanut butter flavor.
Microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds and check if it is done. Don’t overcook; contents of the mug will continue to cook after it’s out of the microwave so a small amount of moisture on the top is acceptable because the pumpkin bread will continue to cook.
Let the pumpkin bread cool slight. Then grab a spoon and enjoy it warm. I recommend pairing it with your favorite coffee or hot chocolate.
You might ask, “Why is there a cover of Louisiana Cookin’ magazine with the pop culture heroes from Duck Dynasty in this post?” Well, the latest issue of Louisiana Cookin’ features an exclusive Duck Dynasty down-home holiday menu with some of the favorite dishes of the Duck Dynasty family. And I have to admit I’m curious to try their recipes for Root Beer Red-Eye Gravy and a spicy Skillet Cornbread with bacon….but that’s not why I included the cover.
Sweet Potato-Bacon Biscuits Win Grand Prize
The reason I included the cover is that the very next featured spread in the November/December issue of Louisiana Cookin’ announces the winners of the 2013 Sweet Rewards Recipe Contest, sponsored by the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission. I am excited to finally be able to share the (very surprising) news that my recipe for Sweet Potato-Bacon Biscuits won the grand prize! I was flabbergasted when I got the call, and humbly honored to receive this recognition. I had hoped that maybe the recipe could win ‘best in category’ for a side dish. I couldn’t even dream that it would be deemed good enough to win the grand prize.
Preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cream of tartar and cayenne pepper. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in Cheddar cheese and bacon. Make a well in the center of flour mixture.
In small bowl, whisk together milk and sweet potato. Add sweet potato mixture to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir just until combined. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead gently 12 times. Roll dough to a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 8 rectangular pieces.
On the prepared baking sheet, place biscuits 1 inch apart. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Serve warm.
This recipe won grand prize in the 2013 Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission's Sweet Rewards Recipe Contest and appeared in the November/December 2013 issue of Louisiana Cookin' magazine.
This recipe is part of my “make it in a mug in the microwave” series of sweet and savory dishes that are deliciously fast. So the next time you’re craving a slice of pizza, whip up with pizza bread with your favorite toppings.
In a large (16 oz or bigger) microwavable mug, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, Italian seasoning, buttermilk and oil with a fork or small whisk. Mix batter until smooth.
Add in 1 tablespoon of mozzarella and 12 pepperoni. Fold into the batter. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and pepperoni on top. Cook for approximately 90 seconds on high in your microwave.
Let cool slightly before eating. Drizzle marinara sauce on top, and dig in with a spoon!
Today’s marshmallow & honey banana bread recipe adventure is one for the dogs! Literally. When one of my pugs, Baxter, was diagnosed with severe food allergies, I started changing out his store-bought, grain-based treats with fresh fruits and vegetables. He loves bananas and I can easily cut one up for him and Bing, one of my other pugs. But they can only eat so many bananas before getting too much roughage in their diet, which causes a new set of digestive problems for Bing. And that means I sometimes have a bunch of bananas about to become “overly ripe.”
I faced that today and decided I wanted to try a new twist on banana bread. So I first found inspiration for a base banana bread recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, and then I dug into my cupboards to find what I could add for texture and flavor. I found some honey, which is a great substitute for granulated sugar in a quick bread recipe. And then I found some miniature marshmallows that I bought in December, either thinking I’d have them in my hot cocoa or I might have been planning a marshmallow baked treat for Christmas [this year I had many plans for baking, but only had time to execute about 3 of them]. I thought the gooey-ness of marshmallows, honey and smashed bananas would be a great experiment to try, while using up these waylaid ingredients.
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 7 1/2 X 3 1/2 X 2-inch loaf pans (or one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan), and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, banana, oil and honey. Add wet mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined (batter will be lumpy). Fold in miniature marshmallows. Pour batter into prepared pans and spread evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. [If using a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, bake for about 55 minutes.] Watch carefully during the last 15 minutes of baking. If needed, cover loosely with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.
Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on rack. It's recommended to wrap in plastic or store in airtight container and store overnight before slicing. Makes about 16 slices.
This peanut butter banana bread with roasted cacao nibs is the latest experiment from my kitchen. I’d never used roasted cacao nibs before, so I was excited to create this recipe to see what kind of texture and flavor it would bring. Cacao nibs are bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao bean. They have a nutty, chocolaty flavor, but aren’t sweet.
I wanted to do a riff on banana bread, adding in some crunchy peanut butter (one of my favorite ingredients) and roasted cacao nibs. But I was having some trouble finding cacao nibs in local grocery stores. So I found roasted cacao nibs online at The Spice House in Chicago. This is Chicago’s spice mecca. Their bricks-and-mortar store is so enticing, because each aisle is brimming with unique spice blends. It’s safer for my wallet to buy from their online store. [Yes, my name is Harvey and I’m a spice addict.] I’ve purchased their lavender vanilla sugar mix, double-strength vanilla, candied gingers and baking lavender there in the past, along with gifting to family and friends one of their most popular items: Ethnic Chicago Neighborhoods Spice Blends.
With banana as the primary canvas, I wanted to mix in ingredients that would add depth to the flavor. In this recipe, I used whole wheat flour – but you could substitute all-purpose flour, if you desire. And you could substitute granulated sugar instead of dark brown sugar.
Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Roasted Cacao Nibs
Cook Time: 1 hour
Yield: 10 servings
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup mashed, ripe bananas (about 2 large or 3 small bananas)
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted cacao nibs
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Generously grease a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and kosher salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until it's light in color. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix just until combined. Then add the mashed bananas and peanut butter; blend thoroughly.
Add lemon juice to the milk. Don't worry if the milk curdles slightly. Alternate the addition of dry ingredients (in 3 parts) with the wet ingredients (in 2 parts). After each addition, mix only until the ingredients are blended.
Fold in the roasted cacao nibs by hand.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. With a spatula, level off the batter to ensure even baking and rising.
Bake for 55 minutes or until the bread springs back when touched lightly in the middle. Do not over bake; the cacao nibs - which are already roasted - will have a tendency to burn if the bread is baked for too long. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the peanut butter banana bread from the loaf.
This apple cinnamon bread recipe is great for the weekend. It’s perfect for a casual Sunday morning breakfast or brunch. Whip some honey into some room temperature butter for a decadent spread to enjoy on warm or toasted slices. Yum!
This recipe calls for Granny Smith apples, but you could also substitute (when in season) Honeycrisp apples for a very mellow, melt-in-your-mouth flavor experience.
Apple Cinnamon Bread
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat the granulated sugar, sour cream, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Stir into the flour mixture, just until moistened. Fold in the apples.
Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the loaf and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Cut in 1/2-inch slices, or preferred thickness.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped