Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Allergy-Free Pantry is Coming Soon!

There is so much that goes into the creation of a cookbook. First, there's an idea, then a book proposal (and negotiations with publishers), and then there's a deal. That's where the real work begins.

I spent most of 2013 creating (and re-creating, testing and re-testing) recipes for The Allergy-Free Pantry: Make Your Own Staples, Snacks, and More Without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts.And then I took photos, one for each and every recipe plus many how-to photos. Of course, I had to actually write the book too!

You might think that once I handed in the manuscript and photos at the end of 2013 that I was done, but not so fast. Then there was the multiple editing phases that I've been working on this year; re-work based on my editor's comments and requests and the very detailed "dot every i and cross every t" editing once copy-editing gets involved. And even more editing after layout.

Watching the book design materialize is the most fun! It's when I get to see the choices the design team has made, including fonts, colors, page layout, and this amazing cover:

Just like Learning to Bake Allergen-Free,all of the recipes in The Allergy-Free Pantry are made without wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, or shellfish, and there's a lot of flexibility and room for substitutions, if needed. The focus of this new book is all about pantry staples that can be made in your own home, putting you in the driver's seat when it comes to safety.

The Allergy-Free Pantry is available for pre-order now, and will be shipped in early September. I can't wait to share it with all of you!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mandarin Orange Marmalade Made with Wholesome Sweeteners Natural Cane Sugar

What to do with mandarin oranges? A while back I ordered a case of mandarin oranges from California Avocados Direct. Surprisingly, I still had some left a couple of weeks ago – quite a few actually. Orange Marmalade seemed like the perfect solution to save some of that juicy goodness!

But before I get to that, let’s talk sugar. Sugar is sugar, right? When you compare one granulated cane sugar to another, that is mostly true. However, not all sugars are equal. I am a big fan of the minimally processed sugars. My go-to is Wholesome Sweeteners organic cane sugar, but there is so much more to explore. Wholesome Sweeteners recently sent me some of their premium sugars to try including the Natural Cane Sugar from Malawi that I chose for this recipe. Let’s take a look:

The organic cane sugar is on the left, and the natural cane sugar is on the right. You can see the deeper color and slightly chunkier texture of the natural cane sugar. A deeper molasses taste is evident in the sugar, although not quite as strong as Sucanat. Because the sugar in a jam shines, and because I use less sugar than in typical jam recipes, this was the perfect choice for my marmalade.

Mandarin Orange Marmalade

12 small mandarin oranges
1 lemon
1 ¼ cups Wholesome Sweeteners Natural Cane Sugar
1 cup water

Wash all of the fruit to remove any oils or waxes.

Peel the oranges. Chop the skins into ½-inch size slices and place them in a medium non-reactive saucepan. Remove any strings or seeds from the fruit and place the fruit in a food processor or blender.

Zest the lemon and combine the zest with the chopped orange peels. Remove and discard the white outer lemon layer. Remove any seeds or strings and place the lemon in the food processor with the oranges.

Add ¼ cup of the sugar to the orange peels and lemon zest. Let it sit to macerate for 30 minutes.

Add the water to the pan and bring it to a boil. Simmer the skins over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

If you are canning, start boiling the jars you plan to use.

Pulse the food processor or blender to chop the fruit to a consistency that is mid-way between a puree and a dice (it will be very juicy). Add the juice and fruit to the pan and bring it to a boil again. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the remaining sugar to the jam, Increase the heat to medium-high and boil, stirring frequently, until the jam is set (and reaches 220 degrees), about 10 minutes.

If you are canning, process the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Mandarins are the perfect orange for this marmalade because they peel easily, are super-juicy, and have few seeds. The Wholesome Sweeteners Natural Cane Sugar lends a smooth sweetness with a hint of molasses.

If you want more jam recipes (and instructions on how to process jam in a water bath), be on the lookout for The Allergy-Free Pantry, coming out in September.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

And the Winner of the Hamilton Beach Mixers is...

Drumroll please...

The randomly selected winner of the Hamilton Beach Mixer giveaway is:

Kelly (Kellyr78)


I had so much fun reading your posts and getting inspired with ideas of recipes to create. My favorites were Snickerdoodle Cupcakes (say what???) and Banana Brownies (totally awesome!) How creative you all are!!

Both the mixers I used for my blog review and the mixers being sent to Kelly were provided, free of charge, by Hamilton Beach. My review is based entirely on my opinion and not influenced in any way.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hamilton Beach Electric Mixer Review and Giveaway

The tool I use most often in my kitchen is an electric mixer. If you make baked goods from scratch – whether out of necessity to keep your family safe, or out of choice – an electric mixer is essential.

Hamilton Beach
sent me two of their latest models – a handheld mixer and a stand mixer – to put to the test in my kitchen and they are offering the pair of mixers to a lucky winner here! Do you get as excited about kitchen gadgets as I do? If so, be sure to check the rules to enter below.

The first mixer I tried was the Hamilton Beach SoftScrape 6-speed Hand Mixer. While I most often use a stand mixer for baking, handheld mixers can be very useful for simple batters, so I put this to the test with pancake batter. The first thing I noticed was the power on this machine – no wimpy power here! In fact, even on the lowest speed there was a great deal of power; the downside to this is splatter – I needed to use a towel to keep the splatter away.

It comes with three attachments, regular blades, a whisk, and the SoftScrape blades that allow you to get right up to the edges.

My favorite feature of this mixer is the case – the attachments and the cord all fit neatly into the case and the mixer sits on top. Storage is very convenient – no more searching for attachments in an over-crowded utensil drawer.

The Hamilton Beach 6-Speed Stand Mixer boasts a mixing action that is the same as a KitchenAid mixer. By that they are referring to the construction of the beater blade which whirls around the bowl to the edges. But one of the most noticeable things about this mixer is its small footprint:

It is both narrower and shorter than most stand mixers, making it ideal for those in a cramped kitchen – and it is small enough to be stashed away on a shelf (for those who don’t need to use it every day). The mixing bowl is just 4 quarts – again, for those smaller mixing jobs. The bowl locks into the base easily, and the tilt action makes it very easy to add ingredients to the bowl.

One of my favorite things about this mixer is the suction feet that allow the mixer to hold steady (without added weight) even when mixing thick batters. I decided to really test this one with a thick dough for a pizza crust. It did struggle a bit with the very thick dough (one that my KitchenAid would have sailed through), but it did the job nicely. No platter with this machine, and the suction feet ensured that the mixer stayed put.

This mixer comes with a flat beater blade, a whisk, and a dough hook (if you’re baking gluten-free you won’t need that last one).

How to enter the giveaway:

One lucky winner will win both of the mixers discussed above. Keep one for yourself and give one away (or keep both, it’s up to you!)

First entry: Enter by leaving a comment below with your favorite thing to make/bake using a mixer.

Second and third entries
: Follow me on twitter (@colettefmartin) and/or on facebook (allergenfreebaker). If you are already a loyal follower, leave a second and third comment here noting that you are (so that I can be sure to count those entries).

The deadline to enter is May 21st. The winner will be announced here on May 22nd.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cost-Effective Options for Allergen-Free Baking

And the last question from the videos I have to share from the APFED educational webinar series is:

How can I make baked goods cost-effective when I'm using specialty replacement ingredients?

I hope you enjoyed this series, and I hope you will consider including APFED in your charitable donation plans this year.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

How to Replace Wheat in Baking - APFED Educational Series

Continuing with the series of APFED Educational Videos, today's question is:

What tricks do you suggest for replacing wheat in baking?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Oh the Things You Can Do With a Blender: The Blender Girl Book Review

I have been waiting to receive my copy of The Blender Girlsince I pre-ordered it in December. Having met author Tess Masters at the Food Allergy Blogger Conference last year, I had very high expectations for this book. Simply said: I love it!

I rarely buy a book for the recipes. With my family’s food restrictions, it’s unusual to be able to make a recipe as written (and I have a natural tendency to tweak). I didn’t buy this book for the recipes either (although I have flagged the I Love Veggies Bake recipe to try) – I bought it for inspiration, and oh my, I am inspired.

First I must mention that the book is beautifully designed – a feat that is not easy given all the hands that touch the creation of a book. The book evokes a sense of healthy living, underscored by a green colored theme throughout.

Tess is indeed selling healthy living, but she doesn’t prescribe the answer for everyone. The ingredients used in the recipes are whole foods. All of the recipes are gluten-free and vegan, however, many of the recipes do call for nuts (primarily almonds and cashews) and some use soy products. One of the things I appreciate most about the book is the flexibility. In some cases, such as where almond milk is used in a smoothie, it’s easy to swap out the almond for hemp milk or your favorite non-dairy milk; in other cases (such as Cashew Cream), the nut is more critical to the recipe.

Tess shares her knowledge in a direct, down-to-earth manner. If you want to learn about acidity and alkalinity of foods and how they affect your body, why water is so important, or how to combine foods for proper digestion, Tess gives condensed lessons. She even has lessons on how to pick the right blender and how to properly add ingredients to the blender.

One of my favorite lessons is how to build your own smoothie. I never would have thought to combine avocado and strawberries in a smoothie – in fact, I wouldn’t have thought to use avocado in a smoothie at all (go figure, since I love avocados). And so, using Tess’s blueprint I created my own smoothie:

Strawberry Avocado Smoothie

½ cup hemp milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of coconut nectar
½ tablespoon hemp seeds
½ small avocado (or ¼ large avocado)
1 medium mandarin orange
a handful of strawberries

I put the ingredients into the blender as ordered above (because now I know that the order is important to proper operation of the blender). The avocado and mandarin orange both came from California Avocados Direct, my favorite source for avocados. The result was a thick, creamy smoothie with a hint of citrus taste.

I intended this recipe to make one smoothie, but it easily serves two.

Next, I was inspired to start growing sprouts from seeds and grains (yes, there’s a lesson on soaking and sprouting!). I am a sucker for kitchen science projects. My first attempt was with amaranth. That may not have been the best choice as the seeds are tiny and I had difficulty draining them completely. My second attempt was with sunflower seeds -- a better choice!

Is that not the coolest thing you've ever seen? Expect me to talking more about sprouts in the future!