Sunday, April 29, 2012

Duck Egg Zabaione

Zabaione is a traditional Italian dessert. It is also known as zabaglione, sabayon and sabajon. Basically, it's a very light and boozy version of a custard.

I have seen many versions of this dessert and almost all are very good. However, I find that the major distinction between most recipes is that some cook their zabaione and others do not. My version is cooked.

To make this dish, you will need a double-boiler. I like to use a small sauce pan with a stainless steel bowl that fits on top.

Fill the sauce pan with a small amount of water. You will need just enough water so that it will not touch the bottom of the stainless steel pan.

I find that the richer the egg, the better the custard turns out. To make a twist on the traditional recipe, I'm making my zabaione with fresh duck eggs. You really can't get richer eggs than that!

If you are in the Greater Toronto Area, you can find fresh duck eggs at the following grocery stores:

1) Yummy Market (4400 Dufferin St., North York, ON M3H 6A8)
2) Btrust Supermarket (1105 Wilson Ave., North York, ON M3M 1H2) 
3) Lucky Moose Food Mart (393 Dundas St. W., Toronto, ON M5T 1G6)

By the way, I found that all of the duck eggs sold at the above stores are sourced in Ontario.

When looking at duck eggs, you will notice that their shells tend to be slightly darker than those of white chicken eggs. Also, they tend to be slightly larger than large chicken eggs. (As seen below, the duck egg is on the left and the chicken egg is on the right.)

For this recipe, you will only require the egg yolks.

To the yolks, add 1 teaspoon of sugar per yolk.

Using a mixer, whip the two ingredients together until the yolks take on a bright colour.

Now it's time to add the alcohol. Pretty much, any type of alcohol will do. Also, almost any amount will do. Personally, I like to use a combination of Marsala and Port. For the quantity, I like to use the half egg shell for measuring. For the amount of egg yolks that I have used (five), I find that using approximately 1 to 2 half-egg shell, filled with liquor, is enough.

Add the desired amount of liquor to the bowl and mix thoroughly.

When you are ready, transfer the mixture to your double-boiler. At this point, you will need to stir consistently, so that your eggs do not curdle. To help me out, I like to use my immersion blender.

Also remember that you do not want your water come to a rolling boil. You just want enough steam heat the mixture.

After a few quick minutes, check the zabaione for thickness. Coat a wooden spoon with the zabaione. remove the spoon from the liquid and drag a finger across the spoon. If a clear path is left, the zabaione is ready. It will be ready when you are able to successfully do this test.

Your duck egg zabaione can be had hot or cold. You can enjoy it by itself or:
- with fruit
- accompanying cakes or pastries
- with whipped cream
- with chocolate
- etc.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gluten-free and Dairy-free Chocolate Almond Cake

Sometimes you just want to have a good chocolate cake. Here is my recipe for a wonderful gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate almond cake.

Gather the following dry ingredients:
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 big pinch of salt

Mix the dry ingredients together uniformly.

Now add the following wet ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
3 large eggs
4 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons almond extract

Mix all of the wet and dry ingredients together.

Have a greased cake pan ready (lightly greased with olive oil). Now, to provide the cake with some lift, add 4 teaspoons of white vinegar and give it a quick whisk. The vinegar will react with the baking soda and will make tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. Be sure to mix in the vinegar and quickly transfer the mixture to the cake pan.

Bake the cake in a preheated 350°F oven for approximately 40 minutes.

Once out of the oven, let the cake cool slightly and flip it over on to a plate.

Once flipped, I like to add a topping of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips mixed with a dollop of almond butter. (No precise measurements are necessary.) Once the cake is frosted, slivered almonds on the top add a nice crunch.

Doesn't it look good?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gluten-free Mustazzoli

For those of you who have read my previous entry on mustazzoli, you will know that this honey bread/cookie is popular amongst Southern Italians. (To read my previous recipe on traditional mustazzoli click here.) These cookies are naturally dairy-free. However, for some time now, I have been thinking about developing a gluten-free recipe. I have tested out this particular recipe and it works great!

This recipe uses buckwheat products to add a characteristic flavour. You will need to begin with 1 cup of buckwheat honey. This type of honey is quite commonly found in most large supermarkets and specialty food stores.

As you can see, the honey has a deep amber colour.

To the honey, add two large eggs.

Whisk to combine the two liquid ingredients together.

Now add 4 tablespoons of blanched almond flour.

Once added, you may give the mixture a quick stir.

You will now require one cup of buckwheat flour. 

Spoon and whisk the flour, into the liquid mixture, 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Once all of the buckwheat flour has been incorporated, the mixture will look like the picture below.

So far so good. Now, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder and whisk it into the mixture.

For the next part of the recipe, you will require roasted white rice flour. This type of rice flour has a texture more similar to wheat flour compared to regular white rice flour. In the Greater Toronto Area, roasted white rice flour can be found very easily at supermarkets catering to the South Indian and the Sri Lankan market.

Slowly, adding 1-2 tablespoons at a time, stir in enough roasted white rice flour to form a stiff dough. You will know that the dough is stiff enough when you can stick a whisk or spoon in it and it will be able to stand vertically.

Transfer large dollops of the dough onto a greased cookie sheet (greased with olive oil). With oiled hands, form the dough into small logs.

Bake the logs in a preheated 350°F oven for approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Let the logs are cool to the point where you can handle them.  While still warm, cut the logs into thin slices.

Once cooled, these gluten-free mustazzoli will be ready to enjoy.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dairy-free "Cheese"

Being on a restricted diet can leave one feeling that they cannot enjoy some everyday foods, particularly if the restriction includes dairy and dairy products. I have been in this scenario before and have found that some alternatives are available, especially when it comes to cheese. One of my go-to alternative recipes is actually inspired by an ingredient loved by vegans; nutritional yeast.  Nutritional yeast is a great source for vitamin B12 and is used as a food ingredient when one is trying to acquire a cheese-like flavour, whilst avoiding dairy. (For those of you who would like to read my previous post on nutritional yeast, click here.)

This particular recipe is for a dairy-free "cheese" sauce. For this recipe, you will require following ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon double-concentrated tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons agar (ground)

Agar is an ingredient that is commonly used in India, Iran and surrounding areas to make desserts like puddings, drinks and ice creams. You may know the ingredient from biology class, as it is used as the gelling agent in Petri dishes. It is also commonly known by other names including agar agar, China grass, faluda (falooda) and falooda sev, among others. Agar is basically a vegetable-based starch used to gel foods, a process that is similar to using gelatin or pectin.

In the Greater Toronto Area, you may be able to find agar at specialty food shops, bulk food stores or health food stores. However, I find that buying agar from these type of places can burn a hole in your pocket. For that reason, I prefer to visit the local East Indian grocery store to purchase it. I find that buying ingredients, such as this one, at Indian grocery stores can be done at a fraction of the price. For example, this packet below cost me approximately $2.00 CAD.

As you can see, the Indian version comes in a packed, nest-like form. The word "falooda" is often used to describe foods that have been shredded. Also, the word "sev" is used to describe vermicelli.

As the agar will need to be dissolved in this recipe, I find it easier to work with when it is broken down into smaller pieces. I simply place the agar nest into my Magic Bullet blender and pulverize it to the consistency below.

In a saucepan, slowly heat the water with the measured amount of ground agar. You don't need to boil the liquid. You simply want the agar to soften. This process should take approximately 5 minutes.

Once softened, place all of your ingredients into a blender.

Simply blend the mixture until reaches a smooth, liquid consistency. That's it! Your "cheese" sauce is ready.

You can use this cheese sauce anywhere you would use melted cheese. For example, try using it with:
- nacho chips
- tortillas or flat breads
- pasta, as I did below, for a yummy mac and "cheese"

Of course, instead of plain, every day mac and cheese, I topped mine with caramelized onions cooked with Herbs de Provence. Mmm.