Gluten Free Vanilla Biscuits with Strawberries

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The Pungo Strawberry Festival is this weekend and to be perfectly honest, that tends to keep me farther away from Pungo than usual. No offense to anyone, it’s just that usually when I am in Pungo, I am on a bicycle and with the influx of people and traffic on this particular weekend, well those things aren’t a great combination.

I’m also going to admit I have never picked berries in Pungo. I’ll cite the reason above…whenever I am in Pungo I’m usually out for a bike ride, not so easy to stop and pick berries. I mean my bike jersey has pockets…anyway, maybe I should make a point to get out to one of the many farms and pick soon! I’m particularly intrigued by the yellow berries at New Earth Farm.

In the mean time I will keep walking over to Stoney’s Produce, grabbing a couple of pints and relishing in how awesome it is to have these berries so close by!

So it is in honor of the festival and Pungo berries in general that I whipped these up this morning.

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I never like to add a lot of sugar or anything to fresh fruit. I think it dulls the brightness of it. But I did want my berries to have a hint of sauciness to them today. All I did was take about 6 of the extra ripe berries and process them with a TB of honey and a dash of vanilla. Then I pour that over the bowl of chopped berries. No fresh berry integrity lost and just a hint of ooze when poured over the warm biscuits.

A couple of notes about the biscuits.

If you haven’t ever baked with powdered buttermilk, it is time. If you bake gluten free on a regular basis, meet your new best friend! Gluten free flours tend to have trouble absorbing moisture, particularly fats, such as butter. I have no idea if buttermilk helps them to do this or what, but using buttermilk, wet or dry, has made a huge difference in the texture of nearly all of my gluten free baked goods.

Vanilla paste. This is much easier to find than it used to be. It is simply vanilla bean and a little sugar made into a paste. If you don’t have any or can’t find it, just use regular vanilla and/or vanilla and the seeds of a vanilla bean. I like the fleks of bean in the biscuits.

Obviously these can do double duty as a shortcake for dessert. In fact these remind me a lot of the homemade shortcakes my nana made when I was a kid!

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Gluten Free Vanilla Biscuits

3 cups Gluten Free AP Flour (I use King Arthur)
2/3 cup sugar
5 teas baking powder
1/4 teas salt
3 heaping TB buttermilk powder
2 sticks cold butter cut into cubes
3/4 cup water
2 TB vanilla bean paste
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a small bowl mix water, vanilla bean paste and egg together and set aside.
In a large bowl sift together all dry ingredients.
Add cold butter and mix with pastry cutter or your hands – hands really are best, but maybe that’s just because I don’t own a pastry cutter.
Add egg mixture and stir just until combined.
Fold dough onto floured board and pat out to 1 1/2 inches thick cut circles and place, sides touching, onto baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. When I remember I also turn the pan halfway through to get all of the biscuits evenly browned.

 

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Is it a Tool or a Gadget?

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In general if it’s functional, and can do more than one thing, then it’s a tool. If it can only do one thing, and not something you need more than once a year, generally I consider that a gadget.

So what does that make my new favorite thing? The Veggetti Spiral Slicer? Well considering I have used it nearly half a dozen times in less than two weeks…this baby is a tool in my kitchen now!

Because it does this…

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Which allows me to do this…

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Zucchini and yellow squash noodles just barely heated through with fresh bunching onions from the fields at Stoney’s Produce, pea sprouts from New Earth Farm and a few sun dried tomatoes from a jar in my fridge!

 

Braised Turnip Greens and Homemade Herb Meatballs

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Included in my mission to eat as locally as possible is to not waste anything, which has been a theory I have always tried to live by, especially when dealing with a tight budget as I am!

Last Friday when I determined the turnips were going to be the first thing devoured from my CSA box, you know I wasn’t going to let those yummy greens go unused. Sunday night I braised the turnip greens with homemade meatballs loaded with fresh herbs from my balcony.

The link to my herbed (gluten free) meatballs is here. They are awesome and I always keep some in the freezer.

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My herbs of choice this go round were chervil and sweet globe basil.

Chervil

Chervil

I have a vague recollection of seeing globe basil before but never paid much attention. But the garden center I went to was actually out of regular sweet basil, we already had purple planted in the friendship garden, and I spotted this pretty round dome shaped plant with tiny green leaves.

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Globe Basil

It claimed to have the same sweetness as regular basil in a tiny leaf. So I picked off a leaf to check it out. It was true, it has same sharp unmistakable flavor of basil. I snatched it up and so far it seems to be faring quite well on the balcony. I’ll admit I’m a little nervous about how long this might last since that oak tree that was allowing a lot of dappled sun to reach my planter boxes, has filled out and is being less generous with those precious rays.

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To prepare the greens, I had already removed the really tough stems last week while I was waiting for the baby turnips to roast. One of my beagles was delighted by this because he got to chow down on a couple of those stems. He loves greens! He will dive into a bag of collards or kale before I can even get in the front door!

The greens were rough chopped and added to a skillet with sauted bacon, some salt, red pepper flakes and water. Cook covered on low heat for an hour or so, finish with some sherry vinegar. It never ceases to amaze me the difference in flavor in the greens I’ve been getting at the grocery store all winter, and the ones just picked down the road only hours before they got to me.

Gluten Free Olive Oil and Thyme Cake

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My first weekend of the 20 Weeks of Eating Local mission included soft shell crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, with a saffron aioli made with farm fresh eggs, greens from our garden, grilled local asparagus, and a gluten free olive oil and thyme cake! A wonderful meal shared with my garden partners!

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They had never prepared soft shells on their own before so I gave a quick lesson in the killing and cleaning of them. As with most fresh food, the less you do to it the better. No dredging needed, just a sprinkle of Old Bay and cracked black pepper, quick saute in a shallow oil bath and that’s it.

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These were especially plump and sweet crabs from Uncle Chuck’s located at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. Keep ’em simple and keep them delish!

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And now, let’s have cake!

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My CSA included a great bunch of fresh thyme, with delicate pale purple flowers. An olive oil cake, I love olive oil cakes, seemed in order. It would highlight the thyme and be an equally great ending to our soft shell crab dinner or coffee on Sunday morning! It is wonderfully moist and rich with the flavor of the thyme. You can make this cake without the almond flour, but I love the texture the almond flour adds.

New Earth Farm encouraged us to eat our flowers this week, so I added some violas from my balcony to the top of the cake. They don’t have much, if any, flavor really. Restaurants will often sugar them when adding them to desserts. I add them to salads a lot when I have them handy just because they really do look pretty!

Gluten Free Olive Oil, Lemon and Thyme Cake

4 farm fresh eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
2/3 cup olive oil, use a good finishing oil with lots of flavor
zest and juice of a lemon
1 cup gluten free AP flour (I used King Arthur)
1/2 cup almond flour
1 TB baking powder
3/4 teas sea salt
1 1/2 heaping TBs fresh thyme, leaves and flowers removed from stems.

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a bundt pan.
In a stand mixer fitted with the padle attachment mix eggs and sugar on high for 3 minutes. Slowly drizzle in melted butter and olive oil. Then fold in zest and lemon juice.
In a separate bowl whisk flours, baking powder, salt and thyme. Then add to wet ingredients. Mix until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and just pulling away from the side of the pan.
Cool for 10 minutes.
Remove from pan. Cool completely. Top with powdered sugar, more chopped thyme and fresh violas if desired.

 

Sweet Baby Turnips and the 20 Week Mission Begins

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My CSA box from New Earth Farm arrived today amidst torrential downpours.

Buried among all the wonderful luscious greens were a bunch of baby turnips. Tiny white and purple bulbs destined not to see tomorrow!

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Roasted until sweet and just tender. I tossed them with a vinaigrette of olive oil, Sherry vinegar, fresh chives from the box, parsley from my balcony and shallot (from the pantry!). I tossed the hot turnips with the vinaigrette, topped them with the chive flowers, which actually had much more flavor than the stems and served them along side a barely over-easy farm fresh egg!

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Add a glass of super cold Chardonnay and yum! A great summer supper on a night that feels wonderfully spring like!

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20 Weeks of Eating Local

 

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Multiple lettuces, two kinds of beets, crazy radishes and some fennel tucked in the corner!

My CSA from New Earth Farm starts this Friday and with it an experiment.

For 20 weeks I am going to do my best to eat as locally as I can. My weekly CSA includes an egg share, I live next door to a local produce market, I have an extensive friendship garden growing like gangbusters at a friend’s house (see photos) and a plethera of herbs growing in the window boxes rimming my balcony railing.

So here’s the layout. I live in a 700-square foot apartment. My balcony faces east but is mostly blocked from the sun by another building and a large oak tree. This is great for privacy, not so great for “farming”! I have four 30-inch x 7-inch window boxes hanging from my balcony. I do get a fair amount of dappled sunlight for a few hours in the morning and the herbs seem to be thriving on this so far.

As things progress I will buy all of my meat through butchers that source locally.

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Three kinds of onions and peppers

So follow along and I’ll try to keep you entertained with the challenges faced, things I had to go elsewhere for and, of course, recipes!

I consider this an experiment in sustainability, eating seasonally and locally. We are so used to having access to things 365 days a year, I’m not sure many of us even know what eating seasonally looks like.

This is also certain to test my creativity, but I expect a lot of fun along the way!

Of course tomatoes and some pole beans.

Of course tomatoes and some pole beans.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

An easy and wonderful addition to your Easter table…

Red Apron Cooking

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Need a super simple, super quick ap to take to your neighbor’s Labor Day cookout?

Well here you go…

Grab a bunch of asparagus, wrap a strip of prosciutto around it, saute in a pan of hot coconut oil – or other high-heat oil of choice and watch them disappear in a flash!

Seriously there is hardly more to say about how to put these wonderful bundles of salty goodness together! The original inspiration for this was found on Pinterest and came from the eatdrinkpaleo.

1 bunch asparagus

1/4 pound or 2 packages of thin-sliced prosciutto

Coconut oil

Slice the pieces of prosciutto lengthwise into strips

Remove the tough end from the asparagus. Starting at one of the asparagus spear, wrap strip of prosciutto at an angle down the strip. You do not and probably will not completely cover the asparagus.

Heat oil in very hot pan – preferably…

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