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Thursday, February 28, 2013

[Wheatless bread] Basic Gluten Free Bread

I recently read "Wheat Belly", a bestseller health/diet book. There are more than a few weak points which don't or can't explain side effects when wheat is eliminated. However, the author's argument about blood sugar level and glycemic index(GI) was strong enough to have me think about reducing wheat consumption. 

There is one or maybe two big obstacles for my big ambition for wheat-less life: the first obstacle is Pablo, my younger son who is allergic to all the tree nuts, and the second is my fondness for baking. Wheat-free baking uses lots of almond flour instead of flour. Fortunately Pablo is okay as far as he doesn't eat it. I can eat food that contains nuts in front of him, without causing a problem. 

As a baking lover, the first recipe I decided to try was a "basic bread" recipe from Wheat belly cookbook. It looked really good in the picture, so why not to try?

Here goes the 'wheat-less basic bread' recipe:
(adapted from P.255 of "Wheat Belly Cookbook")

1 + 1/4 Cups blanches almond flour (ground almond)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons chickpea flour
1/4 Cup ground flaxseeds
1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
5 eggs
1/4 Cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon of xylitol or desired sweetness

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8'1/2" * 4'1/2" loaf pan.

2. Separate egg yolks and whites.

3. In food processor, combine the almond flour, chickpea flour, flax seeds, baking soda, and cinnamon (if using), and salt.
 Pulse until well blended, for 10-15 seconds.

4. Add the egg yolks, butter, milk & vinegar, and sweetner and pulse just until blended.

5. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer on high, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

6. Pour whipped egg whites into the flour mixture and pulse until the egg whites are evenly mixed. 
Don't run the processor for long.

7. Pour into the pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

8. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. 

Remove and cool completely on a rack.

It looks good, doesn't it? 

Guess the taste. It's actually very different. Without all the power and sturdiness of gluten, this bread needs 5 eggs to hold together. For this size of loaf of a normal bread, you don't usually need more than an egg while this gluten-less bread needs as many as 5 eggs. So! this bread is, as you might guess, very eggy. And texture is different. It's pretty plain so that you don't have any problem making a sandwich with this bread. Mr. D didn't like it so much, which is not a problem for me. From now on, when I bake this wheat-less bread, the entire loaf will be all mine. And I like it. I especially like it with butter spread.

If you are thinking of reducing wheat consumption, I recommend this easy bread recipe.

Wheat Free Basic Bread

Sunday, February 24, 2013

[Chinese Pork and Green Bean Stir Fry] Quick and Delicious Ready-in-30-minutes Dinner

This stir-fried green beans with meat must be one of the most popular items at  a Chinese restaurant. It has lots of flavour with simple ingredients. 

The main ingredients don't need to be over-seasoned. I got this recipe from a good friend who told me that the whole secret of stir-fried Chinese green beans is to do it without extra moisture, which meant that I should not pre-cook green beans or add more water  while stir-frying. I heard its cooking method called "dry stir-frying" which is quite correct. As this stir-fried green bean dish can be cooked in a very short amount of time, this can go into your 'quick dinner' repertoire. This is one of my favorite dish for a weekday supper. Believe me , your lunch can be ready, even with rice, in 30 minutes.

Usually the dish is made with beef, but pork also works very well with green beans. I use either meat depending on my inventory :)

Here goes a quick and easy stir-fried pork & green beans recipe:
1 lb green beans
1 lb pork loins
3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (most big supermarket chains list osyter sauce in Asian ingredients aisle)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pepper, to taste

1.  Wash the green beans, drain, and trim the ends. Cut the green beans into slices approximately 2 inches long.

2. Cut the meat into thin strips about 2 inches long.

3. Heat the wok  on medium heat. When the oil is heated, stir in 2 cloves sliced garlic. 

4. Add meat and stir until opaque, about 3 minutes. 

5. Stir in green beans. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes.

6. Season with salt and pepper, and then stir in oyster sauce and soy sauce.

7. Continue cooking until green beans are crispy, but still tender. Don't overcook green beans!

8. Serve immediately, over hot rice if desired.

Isn't it so easy and quick?

Chinese Green Beans Stir-fry with Meat

Monday, February 18, 2013

[Chocolate Cupcake] A versatile Cake Recipe

I was so busy last week and had to work some overtime.
It was only after 10 p.m. on February 13th that I realized that I had to bake some sort of cake for the Valentine breakfast.
The three males who live with me expect me to bake a cake even for a small occasion. I can only blame it on me since I developed their habit of having cake for breakfast on any "named day."

Well, when there is an expectation, there is somebody, i.e. me, who is bound to meet the expectation.
So, here I was!
At 10:30 p.m. (sharp), I checked ingredients. I had to come up with something with butter, egg, and flour. And oh, I almost forgot Cocoa which I had a lot.

So the answer was easy.
A chocolate cake~ But, as my kids love, like most kids, cupcakes, I decided to make twelve cupcakes instead of one big cake.

I already posted the big birthday cake with the same recipe.

I halved the original recipe this time.
Here goes the recipe:
(This recipe is adapted from

1 cup boiling water

 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

 1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

 1 teaspoons baking soda

 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

 1/4 teaspoon salt

 1/2 cup butter, softened

 1 cup white sugar

 2 eggs
 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to make

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  

2. Line the muffin tin with liners. Yes, as you see, I collect cupcake/muffin liners. I tend to buy some whenever I see a new design. Don't tell me it's a bad habit. These liners don't get rotten easily :)

 3. In a medium mixing bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool.

4. Mix & sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

5. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

6. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla.

7. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture,

i.e. 1/3 flour mixture → 1/2cocoa mixture → 1/3 flour
 mixture → 1/3 cocoa mixture → 1/3 flour mixture.

8. Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. 

9. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of each layer comes out clean.

Cool the cake completely on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, make an easy vanilla frosting.

Here goes the recipe for the easy vanilla frosting:

<Vanilla frosting>
1+ 1/4 cups butter, room temperature
2-3 cups icing sugar (= sugar powder)
1 teaspoon vanilla
colors (option)
Fruit (such as strawberries, also optional)
sprinkles (option)

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and vanilla with a stand mixer or hand mixer.
2. Blend in the icing sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition.(Add 4-5 drops of food color, if you are to use it.
A few drops of food color are more than enough to dye the entire frosting prepared.)

3. Using a spatula, spread the icing over the cake.

You can decorate with sprinkles or fruit as you wish.

Kids loved this simple, but delicious cake. Considering the time spent on baking these cupcakes, I dare to say it was a hit :)

Hope you had a beautiful Valentine's day.

This was what we got from Remi for Valentine's day. I should have taken the photo of the card. He made an amazing card. He made our Valentine's day.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

Friday, February 15, 2013

[Homemade Croutons] Crunchy, but not so hard Croutons: Easy-to-make Croutons

This could be one of the easiest, if not "the" easiest, crouton recipes you would be able to find. I tried a few different recipes, and I can assure you that this one is the crunchiest and easiest recipe I've ever had. I don't like store-bought croutons because some of them are so hard that my jaws hurt when I try to crunch with my molars.

These croutons are nicely crispy and easily crunching. They are an indispensable companion for almost any kind of soup, but  also great by themselves if they are made without too much seasoning.

Here goes the recipe.
(adapted from

6-7 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, preferrably stale
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon garlic salts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

2. Remove crusts from stale bread slices. 

3. Brush bread on both sides with melted butter. 

4. Cut buttered bread slices into small cubes. 

5. Arrange cubes on an ungreased cookie sheet and Sprinkle with garlic salt.

6. Bake at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until browned.
Isn't this so easy? :D

Let cool. Store croutons in a covered container or plastic bag, if you have any left.
With this amount, croutons you make will be gone less than 24 hours. 
Serve in soups or salads.
I'll add more photos of soups and salad with croutons in a very near future.

Crunchy Croutons