Today I have two things to say to anyone who wants to listen: Mi-Del’s Gluten-Free Limited Edition Candy Cane Cremes and Trader Joe’s cashew meal / flour. I’ll try to cover these topics quickly: the temperature is supposed to reach a whopping high of 40 degrees within the hour, the ice is melting, and I HAVE to get out and run before the temperature drops and darkness falls.
I’ll begin with Mi-Del gluten-free Candy Cane Cremes. These cookies are chocolate sandwich cookies filled with a peppermint cream filling. DO NOT BUY THESE COOKIES, unless you have will-power of steel. Oh, one cannot stop at just one of these chocolate peppermint cremes, or two, or a few! Considering that these cookies are store-bought, as well as gluten-free, they are exceptionally delicious. Mi-Del released this flavor just before Christmas; however, on a recent trip to Whole Foods (at The Quarry in San Antonio) I found some still in stock and picked up a box or two (Ok! Three boxes! But don’t judge me until you’ve tried the cookies . . . . ). Not one to habitually purchase cookies off the store shelf, I am relieved that these cookies are seasonal. I fear I lack the will power to resist buying boxes of these cookies often were they on store shelves all year long. I’m thinking of using these cookies for a Christmas-y dessert; perhaps I’ll develop a recipe for gluten-free peppermint bark cheesecake and use Mi-Del Candy Cane Cremes for the crust. I’m working it out in my mind right now. Of course, I’ll have to buy more boxes of the cookies for research and development purposes. Um, yeah. I’ll need a few more boxes for experimentation, and for no other reason. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
Now on to Trader Joe’s cashew meal / flour. I usually order all my flours online; I seem to find a finer grind of flours from online sources, especially nut meal / flour. Recently, I visited Trader Joe’s Bee Caves Rd (Austin) location for the first time. I found the private label cashew flour on the baking aisle and figured that at such a low price as $4.99, I could take a risk on the quality of the flour. Cashew flour (as well as most other nut flours) cost over $9 per lb in stores and online. I am very joyful that I took the risk. Trader Joe’s cashew flour is finely ground and perfect for baking and cooking. It tastes delicious. How exciting to find a quality gluten (and grain free) flour at such a bargain price! I emailed and texted everyone I know about my exciting find: excellent quality cashew flour at about half the price I usually pay for nut flours! Everyone I know was very excited , too . . . . well, ok. Maybe my friends and family members were not as excited about the existence of quality but inexpensive cashew flour as they were to share in my joy in finding a bargain (for everyone gets excited about bargains, but about nut flour – not so much, I guess).
I used Trader Joe’s cashew flour to coat boneless, skinless chicken thighs for dinner. I used about 1.5 cups of cashew flour, in 1/2 cup batches, so that I wouldn’t end up with too much left-over nut flour that I would have to throw out for food-safety purposes. The cashew flour kept the chicken thighs very moist and made them flavorful. I did take a couple of pictures, but I confess that the most difficult part of blogging for me is the requirement that food blogs have plentiful, wonderful, beautiful pictures. I am not a photographer. I have read hints about food photography and dozens of articles about the importance of the visual character of blogs in this day of digital communication. I simply can’t find the time to photograph the food I prepare, much less learn to take excellent, creative pictures of my food. I also often forget to take pictures once I have the food on the plate. Usually everyone is ready to sit down and eat by the time I’m finished making dinner, and they’re not eager to wait while I set up and photograph their dinner. I did take a couple of pictures, as I stated, but the pictures don’t do justice to the finished product. Trust me, though. The cashew crusted chicken looked as delicious as it tasted!
1 ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 egg, beaten
¼ c milk
1 ½ cups cashew flour, measured out 1/2 cup at a time
1 tbls Kirkland Organic No Salt Seasoning, measured 1 tsp at a time
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cover a baking pan with foil; spray the foil with olive oil to prevent sticking.
In a bowl, mix together the egg and the milk.
In a shallow plate, mix 1/2 cup cashew flour with 1 tsp of organic seasoning.
Dip a chicken thigh in the egg / milk wash until coated with the wash, then dredge both sides of the chicken thigh in the seasoned cashew flour. Place on the prepared plan. Add cashew flour and organic seasoning to the shallow plate in ½ cup and 1 tsp measurements as needed until all the chicken thighs are well coated.
Bake until the chicken is golden brown, about thirty to forty minutes.
I also used the cashew flour to make spinach fontina cheese cashew pancakes. To make these pancakes I used the ratio for pancakes I found in Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. I’ve read in several sources that gluten-free cooking and baking is much simpler when one cooks by ratio. In the years following my Celiac diagnosis in 2006, I have found that cooking and baking by weight and by ratio does lead to more successful gluten-free dishes. The ratio for pancakes, according to Ruhlman: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg : ½ part butter; 2 parts flour. I used only cashew flour for my pancakes, and I wanted to make pancakes for dinner so I did my own versions of Food Network’s Chopped and used what I found in my basket (or rather, freezer, refrigerator, and pantry) to make savory pancakes suitable for dinner (not that regular pancakes are NOT suitable for dinner for they certainly are, when the mood for breakfast for supper strikes!). The cashew pancakes turned out wonderfully light and delicious. I made an easy hollandaise sauce to drizzle over the pancakes; the sauce was a tasty finishing touch. The pancake recipe is below. Please bare with me on the whole blog food photography thing (see explanation above).
I truly love this Trader Joe’s cashew flour. I went back and bought three more pounds of the flour this past weekend.
8 oz milk
2 large eggs, beaten
2 oz butter
8 oz cashew flour
1 tbls organic sugar
2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
½ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
¼ cup chopped sweet onion
2 tsp zest of lemon
¾ cup shredded fontina cheese
Squeeze or press the moisture out of the thawed spinach. Place in a food processor with the chopped onion and the zest of lemon. Pulse the mixture in the food processor until the onion is finely chopped and the spinach, onion, lemon zest well blended. Put aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, and eggs.
Combine the cashew flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Wisk this dry mixture into the wet mixture until well blended.
Add the spinach / onion / lemon zest mixture to the pancake batter and stir until smooth and well blended.
Add the shredded fontina cheese and mix until smooth.
Cook on a lightly oiled griddle or pan over medium heat until done.