Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Cake with a Crust

Lets talk coconut flour for a moment. Many people opt for coconut flour because they are on a certain restrictive diet that prevents them from ingesting gluten. Fortunately, there is such a wide range of substitutions available, and easily attainable, it is getting easier and much more enjoyable for those of you seeking just such a change. But there is a downside of using any wheat substitution in desserts, and baking in particular. Dryness, reduced structural integrity and other substantive faults. That is why when using any gluten-free flours, you shouldn't use a complete replacement in many recipes, especially baked goods......until now!

I wanted to create a recipe, again, that used gluten-free flour in a cake but not diminish any negative aspects of a complete substitution, yet added SOMETHING to the overall taste. And I succeeded. Not only succeeded, but excelled. This cake would not be the same if I had used any other type of gluten-free flour because you can actually taste the coconut flavor in this flour. What is coconut flour?


Simply put, it is the last remnants of the coconut meat after the milk has been extracted from it. This is dried and ground to a fine powder that has almost supernatural absorption powers. Honestly, this stuff will soak in almost twice the amount of liquid than any other flour. There are pros and cons to this. The pro portion is that coconut flour makes a superb coating for fish or chicken when grilled or fried. The downside of using this flour is that many professional chefs and bakers double the amount of liquid in any given recipe it is used in, especially eggs. And the addition of extra eggs doesn't sit very well with many people, including yours truly.

I have found although, for example, if a cake recipe uses 2 eggs and any wheat flour, by substituting a 1/2-cup coconut flour, you don't need to add that extra egg. Use 1/4 cup buttermilk instead. This works out perfectly without adding even more cholesterol to your diet.

I have only given you the tip of the iceberg with regards to coconut flour. I highly suggest you take a peak here and find out more about this super versatile and ultra tasty flour. By the way, while you are there, take a looksy at their dried fruits and nuts. I placed my order this morning for some candied and dried goodies and I think once you spy the chocolate, you will be ordering to from nuts.com, New England's best and most informative website that indulges, yet cares. A perfect combination that defines us Yankees. Am I being compensated for this post? No! Am I touting yet another great New England company? Oh yeah! And by the way, all the links I have added are completely safe. Just a great way to say hi to a neighbor.

It's Just That Simple!™



Italian-Yankee Corn Cake
(And it's gluten-free!*)

This perfectly sweetened cake creates its own type of crust around the edges that crisp up as it cools, transforming it into a toss between a cake and a pie actually. It is recommended to slice it into segments before refrigerating, otherwise the caramelized crust will be next to impossible to cut. Classical Italian Corn Cake uses almond extract, but vanilla works equally as well if desired.

Nonstick cooking spray
Crisp Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons coconut flour 1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups small dice apple
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries


Grease a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Mix topping ingredients together until thoroughly combined; set aside. In a bowl, combine diced apple, orange juice and cinnamon; set aside. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, blend cornmeal, coconut flour, sugar and baking powder until well blended. Stir in the milk, eggs, lemon juice and melted butter. It should be mixed just enough to wet all ingredients, leaving it somewhat lumpy. Fold in the raisins and transfer to prepared pan, leveling out the top. Evenly divide apple mixture, juice and all, on top of batter. Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over the apples and bake 36-38 minutes, or until the center of the cake is firm. Immediately remove from oven to cool slightly before serving hot, or cover and refrigerate to serve cold.

* But as I say with all gluten-free recipes and products, always ALAYS check the label.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015


I have had it right up to about here(do you see where I am holding my hand?)with adding salt at every single turn in the kitchen. I guess it hit a peak when I saw Chef Ramsay get extremely upset with someone for NOT adding salt and pepper to a lobster roll. Not only is there absolutely no need to season Maine or East Coast lobster when making a lobster roll, but it simply doesn't belong!
Maybe Rock lobster needs seasoning so you can taste it, but certainly not ours in the Northeast.

Another pet peeve I have is almost all cake, pie and a myriad other sweet treats have you adding salt. Not only does it accomplish zero in the way of taste, in cakes for example, but it is not needed! Chefs worldwide will tell you that adding salt helps to bring out the taste of whatever flavor cake you are making, even plain vanilla. If you want a more pronounced vanilla taste, ADD MORE VANILLA PEOPLE!.

We consume far too much salt without even knowing it today and by overlooking added salt where it simply is not needed, helps us control our health. You may not think a half teaspoon salt added to a recipe would make all that much difference, but consider this. Our daily allowance of salt is bout a teaspoon a day. By NOT adding extra salt when we don't need it, we will STILL absorb our daily allowance in other foods, even in soft drinks, candy, chocolate................not to mention processed foods.

Now I can hear a lot of you hollering at me "Now Jim, you add salt to some fruited pies!" My answer is rather simple. There are some instances where salt is needed, but I dare say that over 90% of all my fruited desserts are salt free. If you can't enjoy what nature has to offer, without raising your blood pressure.......well, I don't know what else to say.

This whole salt issue actually started when I noticed another well known television chef salting all heck out of fish before he dunked it into a batter to fry for an English Fish and Chip. Chef Irvine then set the batter-fried fish on a plate and can you guess what he did next?

Yup, he salted it AGAIN!!! And this doesn't even include the salt that is in the fish batter. My goodness everyone............STOP ALREADY!

All you need to do and stop and think. Do you REALLY need that salt in the recipe? You will be surprised at how many times the answer will be NO.

It's Just That Simple!