Monthly Archives: January 2011

My Version of Kerala Chicken Curry

When it’s cold out, I love warming dishes. Don’t we all? Comfort food is definitely in order when the wind is howling and the mercury is falling. Mention comfort foods, and a lot of people imagine a lot of different things. Macaroni and cheese, lasagna, or pizza, perhaps? My husband would probably list chili or enchiladas as some of his comfort foods. Me? When it’s cold outside, I love Indian spices. Specifically, I love curries.

A side note to those of you not familiar with curries – curry is not a spice. Curry is not a “flavor” – there is not a specific ingredient that makes something a “curry”. What is curry, then? “Curry” is the generic term Westerners give to a variety of spiced dishes – most of which originate from India and Southeast Asia. (There are also curries in the Caribbean, South Africa, and Ethiopia, as well as other areas.) A ”curry” can be wet (with a liquid sauce) or dry (without). In my mind, a curry is very often just a stew of some sort – a highly flavorful sauce that envelops any number of ingredients. There are literally thousands of ways that a curry dish can be made, and even if a dish is comprised of the same main ingredients, the mixture of spices can be so different that each curry is unique. I can’t choose a favorite, honestly. I am not an expert, and I love exploring all of the blends of spices and flavors that make up such amazing cuisine. I based this dish on the cuisine of Kerala, a state in Southern India. Kerala cuisine frequently features coconut milk, as well as cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, and more. What I love about South Indian cuisines is that a) there is usually a good amount of heat in the spice, and b) a great many are naturally gluten and dairy-free!

I did use garam masala in order to shorten my spice list in this recipe. Garam masala is a spice blend used quite frequently in our household, and I love how it gives such a full flavor and warmth to everything it seasons. I also used Kashmiri chili powder. This is not to be confused with the ordinary, everyday chili powder that is likely in your spice cabinet. Kashmiri chili powder is much hotter. If you’re heat-averse, I suggest you dial down the measurement of this powder and add more as you see fit. I did make this dish pretty spicy, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! You can find these spices in many grocery stores, although I suggest visiting an Indian grocery if you have one nearby. The spices are fresher and much less expensive. I love making special trips to the grocery near me - they often have great deals on other wonderful ingredients, many times fresher than what you can find in the supermarkets. If you don’t have such a grocery near you, you can always order online at Penzey’s or My Spice Sage, or any number of other online retailers.

I made this dish for the boys and my husband Saturday night. (Brittany was off on a belated birthday celebration with family) My husband and I adored it, going back for seconds. The boys, on the other hand, were not fans. I think perhaps I need to try a recipe that is a bit more familiar to their taste buds – after all, when they’re not at our house, they’re more likely to eat spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, tacos, burgers, hot dogs, pizza…the same stuff most American teenagers eat. (I assumed since there were no chunks of offending vegetables in the curry, that this might be an easier win, but I suppose not.) I plan on continuing to expose them to new flavors, of course, but I also realize that I was likely not much different than they are at that age – I filled up on Taco Bell when I was in high school, and one of my favorite snacks (in the morning at school, no less!) was Cheetos with a Dr. Pepper. If my tastes can expand and improve, I have hope that they will one day embrace a great many cuisines and choose a healthy, balanced diet. That being said, my husband and I weren’t all that sorry that there was more left over for us!

Kerala Chicken Curry

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch dice

1 t coriander powder

1 1 1/2 t Kashmiri chili powder

1/2 t turmeric powder

pinch ground cloves

1/4 t dry mustard

1/2 t ground black pepper

1/2 t kosher salt

1 c onion, roughly chopped

3 Thai red bird chiles, stemmed (or you can substitute 1-2 serrano chiles if the Thai chiles are hard to find)

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 T tomato paste

2 t grapeseed oil or ghee

2 bay leaves

1 t garam masala

1 T cilantro, chopped (can substitute a few fresh curry leaves) plus additional for garnish

1 c coconut milk

1/2 c water

Salt to taste

Toss chicken pieces in coriander, chili powder, turmeric, cloves, mustard, pepper and salt. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Place onion, chiles, ginger, and garlic in a food processor. Blend until it is a paste. Add the tomato paste and pulse once or twice more to blend.

Add oil to a large saute pan and heat to medium heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring often, until paste dries somewhat and onion is softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the bay leaves and garam masala and saute another 30 seconds. Add the chicken and turn heat to medium-high. Fry chicken until nearly cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes. Add the cilantro, coconut milk, and water and stir. Bring to boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, giving it a stir once in a while. Taste and adjust salt as needed, and garnish with more cilantro. Serve over steamed basmati rice.

Makes 4 servings.

Daring Bakers: Failed Attempt At An Entremet, And A Pomegranate Gelee

No, what you’re looking at above is not an entremet. Not even close. But sometimes, there is a silver lining to that dark cloud that seems to rain on your kitchen creations. That silver lining in this case was a simple, light, and delicious pomegranate gelee.

But we’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s first start at the beginning.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert. In case you’re not familiar with an entremet, here is how they do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca4eLDok-4Q (video is in French – FYI)

And yes, my hopes were high. I was to make a thin, pretty, decorated cake to wrap around a filling of my choice. Many entremets are filled with bavarian cream, or cheesecake, or any number of other lovely concoctions. I pondered for a while on how to accomplish this gluten and dairy-free, but I devised a plan. I would simply swap out gluten-free flours for the regular flour, and I’d fill mine with my vegan cheesecake recipe. My plan was to make a middle layer of more of the cake and some “cinnamon roll” filling – which was basically a paste of dates, cinnamon, and pecans. Finally, I’d top it with a pomegranate gelee – so the top would look sparkly and like a pretty red glass. In my head, this sounded spectactular.

Only I should have stopped when I was coloring my jaconde (the design filling). I was low on natural food dye. All I really had was blue. So I went with it. (Only blue really isn’t that appetizing for a cake. Or very many foods, actually – except for blueberries.) The cake actually turned out beautifully, except for the blue part. The texture was spongy, and it was pliable. It was relatively easy to wrap around my 9″ cheesecake mold. Despite the less-than-stellar color, I was excited. I filled it with the cheesecake filling, and stuck it in the freezer to firm up.

A while later, I made the pomegranate gelee. This is where things turned for the worse. I thought that somehow, when I poured the liquid juice-and-gelatin mixture over the cake, that it would stay where it was supposed to. It didn’t. Instead it leaked all down the sides of the cake, making pink splotches and causing the cake to look, well…ugly. It actually tasted alright, but I couldn’t get over how it looked. The combination of colors was downright unappetizing. I begrudgingly took my photos, tasted a bit, but it ultimately ended up in the garbage. I was disappointed.

Until I realized that I still had pomegranate gelee left over. You see, I made way more than I needed for the entremet, so I opted to pour the rest into individual serving bowls and sprinkle some pomegranate arils into each of them. I placed them in the refrigerator to set. I took one out, grabbed a spoon and dug in – and somehow, the sting of failure lessened. My mistake caused an unexpected success – almost a yin and yang in the kitchen. The pomegranate gelee was sweet, tart, and fresh. It was light. I loved it.

But wait, you say. You took pictures? Where are they?

Okay, well, yes, I did. I didn’t want to start this post off with a garish photo of a less-than-appetizing entremet, lest I scare you away, never to return. But since you’ve stayed with me this far, here goes:

Here's the unmolded, whole entremet, with the pink "stains" in the cake

A slice of the entremet - I think any color but blue would have improved it!

There you go. I would love to try this challenge again soon, knowing what I know now. I think it could be a lovely, impressive treat for company or a special occasion. I will go ahead and share the revised version of the biscuit jaconde (cake) recipe with you – but trust that you shouldn’t dye it blue, and learn from me – don’t pour liquid on top of it and expect it to stay there! 

As for the pomegranate gelee, this was probably the easiest dessert recipe I’ve ever posted. It’s almost not a recipe. But if you have guests coming over, but want dessert to be easy and something that you literally can just pull out of the refrigerator and serve, this is it.

A big thanks to Astheroshe for this challenge. It was fun, even if mine didn’t turn out as planned. I’m definitely going to try again soon!

Pomegranate Gelee

2 envelopes powdered gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)

24 oz 100% pomegranate juice (I used POM Wonderful)

about 1/2 c pomegranate arils (totally optional, but it adds a nice touch)

Pour powdered gelatin into a small bowl and pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the juice over. Allow to sit. Meanwhile, heat the rest of the juice over medium heat until nearly to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until smooth. Allow to cool for a few minutes and pour into desired serving bowls (I used bowls, but wine or champagne glasses could be extravagant too). Place in refrigerator and chill for 3-4 hours. About halfway through the chill time, sprinkle some pomegranate arils over each. When the gelee is set, they are ready to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Biscuit Jaconde Imprime (adapted from Chef John O. at The International Culinary School in Atlanta, GA)

Ingredients:
¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners’ (icing) sugar

¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour (I used 1 cup sorghum flour, 1 cup brown rice flour, and 1 cup tapioca starch, with 1/2 teaspoon guar gum, sifted together, as cake flour)

3 large eggs – about 5⅓ oz/ 150g

3 large egg whites – about 3 oz/ 90g

2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar

2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted (again, I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)

Directions:

  1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
  2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
  3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
  4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
  5. Fold in melted butter.
  6. Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

Ingredients
14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened (I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)

1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners’ (icing) sugar

7 large egg whites – about 7 oz / 200g

1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour (I used 1 cup sorghum, 1 cup brown rice flour, and 1 cup tapioca starch, with 1/2 teaspoon guar gum, whisked together, to make cake flour)

Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
  2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
  3. Fold in sifted flour.
  4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

  1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
  2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one. (I used a piping bag to make my blue designs)
  3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
  5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
  6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
  7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Preparing the MOLD for entremets:

- Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.

- A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.

- Cut PVC pipe from your local hardware store. Very cheap! These can be cut into any height you wish to make a mold. 2 to 3 inches is good. My store will cut them for me, ask an employee at your store. You can get several for matching individual desserts. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.

- Glass Trifle bowl. You will not have a free standing dessert, but you will have a nice pattern to see your joconde for this layered dessert.

1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.

2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.

3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)

4. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.

5. The mold is done, and ready to fill with anything from cheesecake to bavarian cream to fruit or even more cake layers. The possibilities are endless.

Kids In The Kitchen: Peanut Butter Brownies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

With the exception of Brandan’s adventures, it seems we’ve fallen into a bit of a dessert-o-rama here in the Kids In The Kitchen series. Just look – there were brownies not long ago, along with chocolate peanut butter fudge and peanut butter cups. Okay, so maybe that’s not just a dessert-o-rama, but rather a chocolate-peanut-butter-o-rama. But the former is a bit easier to say, don’t you think?

Anyway, I digress. I couldn’t deny Matt an opportunity to make brownies as well. Besides, brownies are one of my favorite food groups. And these were slightly different than other brownies, even if only that they included peanut butter. I started with my favorite brownie recipe and made adjustments from there. It’s a relatively simple recipe – and I love that it only uses one pot. It’s almost as if it makes up for all of the dirty dishes that usually accumulate in my kitchen. (Okay, not even close. But let’s just pretend, shall we?)

Verdict? These were lovely. Chewy on the edges, fudgy in the center, with a slight peanut taste. Personally, if it were my choice, I would have opted to swirl in the peanut butter, rather than blending it in completely, but this was Matt’s choice. He wasn’t complaining - and neither was anyone else. Let me just say – it will be hard to keep these around the house for longer than 24 hours.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Brownies

7 T palm shortening

2 oz unsweetened chocolate

1 c sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 t  vanilla extract

1/4 c plus 1 T sweet white rice flour

1/2 t guar gum

1 t unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 t kosher salt

1/2 c semi-sweet dairy-free chocolate chips

1/2 c creamy all-natural peanut butter

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8 X 8 pan (or line with parchment and grease the parchment) and set aside.

Melt the shortening and chocolate in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once completely melted, remove from heat and whisk in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until incorporated. Add rice flour, guar gum, cocoa powder and salt and whisk to blend completely. Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter, and pour batter into prepared baking pan.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes. Cut and serve unadorned, or you can get fancy and top with peanut butter, ice cream, or frosting.

Enjoy!

Daring Cooks: Vegan Cassoulet

 Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I have always wanted to make cassoulet. It’s rich, comforting, and perfect for a wintry day. However, lately I’ve been focusing on lighter fare. (In addition, I looked at the challenge for the first time this week, and didn’t think I could spend the time needed, or get the duck legs I wanted, in time.) So while I will definitely make the traditional cassoulet one day soon, this month, I opted for a lighter, quicker version of the dish. I opted to go for a vegan cassoulet, and confit some garlic cloves.

The cassoulet came together relatively quickly. (I did opt to cook my own beans from dried, rather than canned. I used Stephanie’s slow cooker instructions, so the beans were ready when I came home from work. I think they taste better than canned, and they tend to be more digestible. An added bonus – they’re much lower in sodium.) This is one relaxing dish to make. As the aromatic vegetables cooked, the aroma was so comforting – a myriad of leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic wafted through the air. The act of slowly stirring beans in a pot soothes me – it’s not stressful, high-speed cooking. This is love in a pot.

My favorite part about the dish though had to be the breadcrumbs. I will have to confess – the gluten-free bread I used was not vegan. I had frozen Udi’s to use up – so I made breadcrumbs from that bread. (Udi’s uses eggs) However, you could use Carrie’s lovely vegan gluten-free bread and make it completely vegan. These breadcrumbs were so deliciously crisp, with the inticing bite of the garlic and freshness from the parsley. I snuck spoonfuls while in the kitchen. These breadcrumbs balanced the creamy beans perfectly.

All in all, I didn’t miss the rich components of a traditional cassoulet (or what I’d imagine it would be, I have never actually eaten it). This was so satisfying (and healthier). I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Vegetarian/Vegan Cassoulet
Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008

(Note: we didn’t actually make this recipe, but we’re sure it’s a good one!)

Ingredients:

3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (1 gm) ground cloves
3 (19-oz/540 gm) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 qt (4 cups/960 ml) water
4 cups (960 ml) (300 gm) coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (12 gm) chopped garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) (80 gm) chopped parsley

Directions:

1. Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch (13 mm) pieces, then wash well (see cooks’ note, below) and pat dry.
2. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon (2½ mm) each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with rack in middle.
4. Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated.
5. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
7. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth.
8. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.

Book Review: The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free (Fresh Orange Bundt Cake)

Before the holidays, I was sent a copy of The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free by Anne Byrn. (She is the mastermind behind The Cake Mix Doctor as well) While there was a time when I was a big boxed cake mix fan, I typically ignore them nowadays, choosing instead to try to create something original (and sometimes healthier) in my own kitchen. However, I have seen that gluten-free boxed mixes are increasing in popularity, so I figured that this would be a great opportunity to try one, and at the same time try out some interesting and unique recipes from this new book!

This book has a lot of unique recipes – some I would have never thought to make using cake mixes, including muffins, wedding cakes, and even brownies, bars, and cookies. I would love to try her carrot cake recipe and her hummingbird cake – they both sound great. I opted to try the Fresh Orange Bundt cake. It was easy to put together, and not as sweet as some of the other frosting-laden cakes. After the over-indulgence of the holidays, I can appreciate that.

Simple, fresh, and lightly sweet, this cake was definitely a hit in our house. Our kids loved it. It would be perfect as an “everyday” cake (okay, so cake is most definitely NOT in my house every day, but you know what I mean!) to enjoy with a cup of tea or after a nice light dinner.

This book reminds me that the humble boxed cake mix isn’t to be cast aside, at least not in all occasions. And if you’re new to gluten-free baking, this is a great way to still have your cake and eat it too! (groan…bad joke, I know) She even gives some dairy-free options, if you’re a dairy-free baker as well. One note of caution on that – make sure you’re knowledgeable about what dairy-free margarines and milks you can have. Anne doesn’t specify, and a dairy-free newbie might assume that all margarine is dairy-free, etc. (it’s not) But this book does take away the biggest headache out of gluten-free baking – the need to own a dozen gluten-free flours. For many, that’s a saving grace!

Gluten-Free Fresh Orange Bundt Cake, from The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free, reprinted with permission, copywright 2010 from Workman Publishing

For the cake:

Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pan

1 T rice flour, for dusting the pan

1 medium-size orange

Orange juice

1 package (15 oz) yellow gluten-free cake mix

1/4 c granulated sugar

8 T unsalted butter at room temperature (I used Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks)

3 large eggs

1 t pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

1 c confectioner’s sugar, sifted

3 T orange juice

1. Make the cake: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust it with the rice flour. Shake out the excess flour and set the pan aside.

2. Rinse and pat the orange dry with paper towels, then grate enough orange zest to measure 2 teaspoons. Place the orange zest in a large mixing bowl. Cut the orange in half and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. Add enough freshly squeezed orange juice or orange juice from a carton to measure 2/3 cup.

3. Add the orange juice, cake mix, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl with the orange zest and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are just incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula, and place the pan into the oven.

4. Bake the cake until it is golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 35 to 40 minutes (mine was done at 30). Transfer the Bundt pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake, shake the pan gently, and invert the cake onto a wire rack.

5. Meanwhile, make the glaze, if using: Place the confectioner’s sugar and the 3 tablespoons of orange juice in a small bowl and whisk until the glaze is smooth. Transfer the cake to a serving plate. Using a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke a dozen holes in the top of the cake. Slowly pour the glaze over the cake so that it soaks into the holes and dribbles down the side of the cake. Or omit the glaze and sift some confectioner’s sugar over the top of the cake. Let the cake cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes longer, before slicing and serving.

Kids In The Kitchen: Grilled Shark Steak and Dairy-Free “Creamed” Corn

Brandan’s turn in the kitchen always brings an adventure. This one not nearly as “out there” as some of the others (sea cucumber, anyone?), but still new and different. Brandan wanted to cook shark steak. When I asked what he wanted to serve with it, creamed corn was at the top of the list. Creamed corn is something I remember fondly from childhood – silky, creamy and sweet. And that was the stuff that came from a can! Making a dairy-free, non-canned version didn’t seem all that difficult. I’ll be happy to report – it wasn’t.

The shark was also very straightforward. A quick marinade, and a short time on the grill, this could easily become an adventurous meal for a weeknight. (Provided your grill isn’t covered in snow, that is. We’re in Texas, and tomorrow is our first hint at real winter weather so far this season. We grill year-round.) No grill? This could just as easily be prepared by searing in a cast-iron skillet and finished in a hot oven, much like my favorite way to prepare lamb chops.

As for the creamed corn, a simple swap of non-dairy butter and non-dairy milk for the butter and cream, and we were ready to go! I dialed back the sweetness quite a bit, relying on the natural sweetness of the corn. It was well-appreciated. I don’t often eat corn, (I don’t tolerate it well) so this was a treat for me.

A side note: One of the fun (and sometimes trying!) parts about cooking with Brandan is that he wants to taste everything. What does the Worcestershire taste like? How about the butter? Tapioca flour? How about the marinade? Can he lick the spoon? The bowl? “No, wait – don’t throw that in the sink yet – I was going to lick it!” I love that he wants to explore everything. Especially when it comes to food. This is how I was when I was a child, so it reminds me a bit of myself. But the growing mountain of “tasting spoons” in the sink, the fact that we have to sometimes prepare extra ingredients just to account for the “eaten during preparation” factor, and the way progress is slowed to a crawl, can be trying to one’s patience. (This is why I tend to lean towards simple recipes with Brandan – intricately timed recipes are difficult with any kid, and he’s no exception!) Overall, the experiences we share – not just with Brandan, but with all the kids – are immeasurable. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

And now, back to the food. The verdict on the steak? The family was split. My husband and Brandan both loved it. My husband described it as “meaty like a steak, with a nice grill, smoke flavor, but then light with the flavor of the sea at the end.” (Had to document that, because it’s not often you get such a description of flavors from him!) Matt said it was “kinda good, kinda bad.” Brittany ate it with ketchup, something I wouldn’t recommend. (She eats every protein on her plate with ketchup lately. I just wrinkle my nose at her. Yuck.) I wasn’t fond of it, truthfully. I found the marinade a bit salty, and the texture less than super-tender. I think if shark steak appears in our kitchen again, I’ll consider preparing it like we did swordfish - that recipe was very tender and flavorful. Or create a simple oil-and-citrus marinade with herbs, and cook it more gently, and top it with either a mediterreanean-style salsa (something involving tomatoes and capers), or in the summer, a fresh fruit salsa. (Okay, this is making my mouth water. Maybe this shark thing wouldn’t be so bad after all!)

If you venture to try shark steak, or if you’ve prepared it in the past, tell me: How did you prepare it? What did you think?

Grilled Shark Steak

1/2 c gluten-free soy sauce or tamari (I use San-J)

1/2 c gluten-free Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is gluten-free)

4 T onion powder

4 T garlic powder

1/2 t ground sage

1/4 t dry mustard

1 t ground black pepper

6 6-oz shark steaks

Whisk soy sauce, Worcestershire, and spices together in a small bowl. Place shark steaks in a large glass baking dish, and pour marinade over. Turn steaks to coat. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Heat grill to medium heat. Grill steaks about 5 minutes each side or until the center is just cooked through.

Serves 6.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free “Creamed” Corn

2 T non-dairy butter (I used Earth Balance buttery sticks)

2 T tapioca flour

1 1/2 c non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut beverage)

1 T evaporated cane sugar

3 c frozen corn kernels

Pinch or two of salt, or as needed

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add non-dairy butter. Swirl and melt the butter, then add the tapioca flour, whisking constantly until blended well. Add the non-dairy milk and sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture is steaming and becomes thick, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the corn and whisk in. Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the corn kernels are hot. Season to taste with salt.

Serves 6.