Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Coconut Almond Bourbon Blondies - Gluten Free!

Thanks to Kentucky bourbon country, I'm still finding ways to enjoy memories of the trip we made last year. The Woodford Reserve cooking and baking items I picked up at Bourbon Barrel Foods in Louisville are still finding new uses in my kitchen. 

Blame it on the Strip District and Enrico's, but since wandering into that incredible bakery a couple of weeks ago, I haven't been able to stop thinking about my favorite, fondly remembered, blondies. Why on earth would I tempt myself when all that gluten taunted me? I simply felt the urge to peruse beautiful pastries, biscotti, breads, cakes and cookies...and to inhale deeply. And I did.

Duplicate Enrico's blondies at home? And make them gluten free? Why try to recreate perfection? Why not? I used my basic gluten free blondie recipe, added toasted almonds, coconut shreds, mega chocolate chips, then sanded everything with Bourbon Vanilla Sugar and a sprinkle of Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt - both from Bourbon Barrel Foods in Louisville. Also from BBF, I incorporated Bourbon - Madagascar Vanilla Extract. The secret ingredient, of course, is a bit of Woodford Reserve Bourbon! 

Kentucky tastes SO GOOD!

Coconut Almond Bourbon Blondies Gluten Free

  • 4 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 4 T coconut oil
  • 1 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 t Woodford Reserve bourbon - or whatever you have on hand (bet dark rum would be pretty amazing, too)
  • 1 t vanilla extract (see above for the brand I used and a link to order your own)
  • 1 C Jule's gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1/4 t baking soda - be sure it's gluten free
  • 1/2 t baking powder - be sure it's gluten free
  • 1/2 t fine kosher salt
  • 3/4 C chocolate chips - I used Guittard mega chocolate chips
  • 1 T Jule's gluten free all purpose flour (for tossing with the chocolate chips to keep them from sinking in the batter)
  • 1/2 C toasted almond slices - toast them in a dry skillet until lightly browned and fragrant
  • 1/2 C Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Chips
  • 1 T Bourbon Vanilla Sugar
  • a large pinch of Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter an 8" X 8" square baking pan. Set aside. Toss chocolate chips with the 1 T flour in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a medium mixer bowl, add the butter and coconut oil and blend well, then add brown sugar and beat at medium speed until thoroughly blended. Add egg, vanilla and bourbon to the mixture and beat until smooth.

In a small separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Add this dry mixture to the mixer bowl with the wet ingredients and mix at slow speed until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

Pour the batter into the buttered pan, working it into the corners and smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Scatter the almonds and coconut over the top, sprinkle with bourbon vanilla sugar, and finally with a big pinch of bourbon smoked sea salt.

Bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the pan on a rack and cut into squares or bars to serve. 

Why not make a good cup of coffee (and maybe add just a splash of bourbon?) for quite the enjoyable break...kind of like a mental visit to the Bourbon Trail!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Quick Cod Poached in Fennel, Onion, Tomato and Basil

What a busy week! You too? If you've been looking for a quick and easy Lenten dinner that uses only one pan and is easy on the waistline, here's something for you.

This simple dish simmers together thinly sliced fresh fennel and onion along with slivered tomato and fresh basil. Once the veggies are ready, cod fillets are nestled down into the mixture to pick up all the rich, fresh flavor and is finished with a sprinkle of fennel pollen to really jazz things up! That "easy on the waistline" part? There are only about 375 calories per satisfying serving.

While you're at the store (or the Strip District) buying your fish, grab a bag of salad mix, some crusty rolls from the bakery, and there's nothing else you need to get dinner on the table in no time. The only thing that could make that better would be why not splurge those saved calories and pick up a few cookies while you're at it?!

Cod Poached in Fennel, Onion, Tomato and Basil

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds removed, cut in quarters lengthwise and sliced thinly across the bulb
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced thinly across
  • 3 fresh tomatoes (I use Campari tomatoes, but Romas would work well, too), sliced lengthwise, then sliced across into julienne pieces - approx. 1 C
  • 6 large leaves basil, sliced across thinly 
  • 4 nice sized cod fillets - or use your own favorite mild fish
  • fennel pollen - look for it on'll be glad you did for fish and veggies

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet on top of the stove, then add the veggies and basil. Let simmer until tender. Season the code with salt and pepper.

When the veggies are ready, move them to the sides of the pan and nestle the cod into the center of the pan and let the fillets gently cook through until flaky. To finish, sprinkle a couple of pinches of fennel pollen over the cod and veggies and serve.