If only there was a recipe for “baking” social media.

I wish I didn’t need social media, but I do and it’s a part of my business that I do not enjoy.  Maybe, I’ll learn to like it.  However, I love building up my gluten-free culinary business & website: www.CountryKitchenCenter.com.    The business touches on many things that I love: baking, cooking, talking food, teaching food and planning classes and lessons.

Right now, I have a bread in the oven.  I proofed it- let it rise – next to the warm, wood oven and the dough formed such a beautiful dome that it already looked baked.  I’m so excited to learn more about baking gluten-free yeast breads.  I may be a culinary teacher; but I wanted to develop a better  technique for making yeast breads.  I took a course at the Institute of Culinary Education “ICE” in New York City.  The instructor, Michelle, was a “teacher’s teacher”.  I got so much from attending her class about delivering instruction and baking myriad gluten-free bread products.  I aim to provide the same level of instruction – but in a smaller, country kitchen setting. Yes, you can see why I named my blog and business as I did.  I can’t wait for more of you to come experience this pastoral scenery when you come to take classes and tour the area.

I just wish there was a quick way for me to get up to speed on using social media to build my business.  I know how it important it is and I need to use it on a regular basis.  Many of you will say that’s “a piece of cake”!  However, I prefer real face-to-face contact, a good asset for a teacher.  I like to converse in person, I like to have a phone call rather than text and when I’m in a restaurant enjoying good food and company, I am not on my smart phone.

I’m writing this post now to share my feelings about using social media.  I know that it’s important to get on it on a regular basis and share my thoughts, experiences and photos.  Soooooo, please help me out by  sending me your comments to this blog Country Kitchen Chaos and going to my FaceBook/Country Kitchen Center page and my website: www.countrykitchencenter.com  Please send me your thoughts and suggestions on increasing my “social media” awareness & ability to reach out to a larger audience.

The bread is in the oven and I just turned the bread to help it bake evenly.  It smells wonderful, just like a bread from an old-fashioned bakery.

A yeast bread class will be on the fall schedule.  

I look forward to hearing from you.  Please share this post here, and share my FB/CKC page.  Help increase my “hits” and following!

 

 

Weekend Fit for a Foodie

 

                                                                     Weekend Fit for a Foodie  
                                  
My gleeful selfie-photo at Julia’s house.        My Butternut Squash recipe is at the end of this post.
I’m back from a food-oriented weekend in the Boston, MA area.  I stopped in Cambridge to see where Julia Child lived and cooked.  I was hoping to see a plaque honoring Julia, but there was only a sign discouraging cars from stopping…you can’t stop a foodie from taking photos, including my most gleeful selfie ever.  I later had dinner at Harvest Restaurant, where I had dined many years ago. Before Sara Molton was a TV chef, she used to chef at Harvest and she also in Julia Child’s Cambridge kitchen.

          
Beet, cheese and cranberry appetizer.         Artic Char on black rice with vanilla sauce.
The meal was as good as I remembered, especially the sauces.  My dinner companion and I shared a beet appetizer that was the star of the meal.  I took this photo after we ate half of it.  My entrée was Arctic Char on a bed of black rice entrée: check out those “balls of vanilla sauce” that were a standout element in the dish.  We finished with a trio of homemade ice cream flavors: chocolate, maple and raspberry sorbet.  Ice cream is always a good gluten-free dessert choice.   When dining out, be prepared to ask questions about the gluten-free options.  By the way, the waiter was very attentive to my gluten-free needs.

Soup Anyone!?! My main purpose this weekend, was to attend a cooking class.  And, with all the snow we are getting in New York, I couldn’t have chosen a better topic.  Luckily, the class was sandwiched in between several snow storms!

Challenges of ADD  If you have read my posts, you know that my blog www.countrykitchenchaos.com  focuses on two main topics besides food: gluten-free living and attention deficit disorder (ADD).  My life is framed by these challenges and special gifts, both of which I’ve learned to appreciate.  Yet, I still need ways to manage my time and organizational issues.  My gift enables me to envision a creative marketing plan in no time; but I can have trouble sticking to a daily schedule.  Alas, getting my culinary business, Country Kitchen Center up and running is a challenge.  (Of course, this is true for any new business.)

               
A Demo on cutting onions.                                      Helen and Andrea. It’s fun to be a student.
Cooking Class in Action 
I got to attend a cooking class that is held in a home kitchen. I was excited to see how Helen conducts her classes, as I also use a home-based kitchen for my classes.  I always learn best when someone can model a task. In this case, how to organize and run a cooking class.  Helen had everything set to go and the class flowed smoothly.

She concurrently make three diverse soups.  The soup class a “watch and learn” class in which we followed the myriad steps of preparation, demonstration and taste evaluation.  I’m a hands-on teacher/student, but I could see the value in having students observe and then practice in their own kitchen.  She also did several demonstrations, including one on the use of salt in food dishes.  I liked that demo.

  Bouillabaisse with aioli toast.
The soups included a fish stock based Bouillabaisse.  I brought my own gluten-free bread and Helen was careful to toast my bread separately, and then spread the aioli before touching any gluten bread.  Another soup was a velvety, roasted butternut squash soup, with a pomegranate reduction.

The last soup, made in a pressure cooked was a smokey lentil soup.  All were delicious and beautifully presented.  If you are interested in finding out more about Helen’s cooking classes, check out her website www.helenrennie.com  for her own recipes.  I will give you my own version of a butternut squash soup.  I also roast the vegetables, which caramelizes them and brings out the sweetness.  Helen showed us an easy way to peel the squash, which I will include in the recipe below.

The Take-Away  After the class, Helen graciously sat with me and talked about how she started and built her business.  My conversation with Helen was an example of true networking and hands-on learning.  I thank her for reaching out to a fellow cooking teacher.  She has given me much “food-for-thought” in building my food business – and making soups!  Merci beaucoup.

   Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with sour cream and toasted nuts

Ingredients:
1 medium Butternut squash, peeled and cut into wedges
1 sweet potato, cut in half
2 apple, peeled, cored and cut into quarters
2 onion, peeled and cut into wedges
olive oil for coating vegetables
4 cups broth: vegetable or chicken

optional: 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

For Serving:
sprinkle per serving walnuts or pecans, small pieces toasted
1 teaspoons per serving Sour Cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prep ingredients and coat with olive oil.
Spread out in a single layer on baking tray.
Bake about 30 minutes, until all is nicely browned.
Puree in blender with a little broth until smooth.
Put soup, remaining broth and optional butter in a medium pot. Heat and serve.
Top with a dollop of sour cream and toasted nuts.

Notes:
Butternut squash – cut off top & bottom, peel from end to end, cut peeled flesh in half then cut into thinner pieces (triangles & rectangles)
Apples – cut top & bottom off, use peeler or knife to remove peel, cut into wedges, removing core
Onions – remove brown papery layer, cut into half
Coat all with olive oil  in a large work bowl and lay in 1 layer on tray.
You can use a blender wand, but the soup will not be a smooth if you use a regular blender.

Tips:
This soup can be a first course or a main dish, in which case follow with a salad and cheese course. 

 

                            

Comments and information:  Let me know how you like this winter soup pleaser…Post your soup photo with comments to this blog. www.countrykitchenchaos.com 
For more information about our gluten-free classes, workshops and consultation services go to our website: countrykitchencenter.com    In addition, you can email me at ckc@countrykitchencenter.com
Off-site classes:  We do classes at our kitchen center, as well as at the homes of host-students.  If you are interested in hosting a class, please call or text Andrea at #646-670-7699 to learn about the benefits.

 

 

 

 

As good as it gets, gluten-free buttermilk pancakes!


Country Kitchen Ch
aos focuses on two topics, close to my heart and daily life: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and gluten intolerance and gluten allergies.  Someone might say it is a lot to deal with, but it has given me challenges that make the best of my life. As a person with ADD, I am always dealing time and organizational issues.  When I cook, I must be organized and specific with my cooking instructions.  If I want to double a recipe, then I write down the new amounts, otherwise I will make a mistake.  Mostly, I write the new amounts in a column, to the right of the one in the cookbook or on a printed computer page and put a 2X above the new amounts. If my eyes are straying to the single batch column, then I place a paper over it.   I doubled this pancake recipe since one batch is not enough for any pancake loving person. You can freeze any extra pancakes and have a tasty fast weekday breakfast.  You certainly won’t get gluten-free pancakes at any fast-food restaurant!

This weekend, I made amazing gluten-free fluffy buttermilk pancakes.  They fit my credo:  as good as regular-gluten food. I had a bottle of my favorite brand, “Kate’s Creamery – Real Buttermilk” and wanted to make a breakfast dish using it.  If you haven’t tried it, do so…it is the best thing to making it yourself!  I tweaked a pancake recipe from 1000 Gluten-Free Cookbook by Carol Fenster.  You can use her sorghum based flour blend or another all-purpose gluten-free flour mix. In either case, keep a gluten-free flour mix on hand for quick breakfasts and other baked recipes.

Here’s my method for making these pancakes, which are sure to be a family favorite.  Mix & blend well the dry ingredients.  In a separate large, liquid measuring cup, mix well the wet ingredients.  I added a little more buttermilk since the batter was too thick, but you may need to adjust it each time you make it.  It should be thick, but still pour slowly from the measure cup. I added two yellow organic, sliced bananas (save the really ripe one for your baked goods).  I also added 1/2 cup small pecans pieces; which increases the protein content. I gave it a spice boost with a bit of cinnamon.  Pancakes give you lots of room to play with your favorite flavor palette.

I mostly cook with cast iron pots & pans.  I have a griddle pan that covers two burners and can cook a small bunch – about 2 to 4 at a time.  Cast iron can over-heat quickly; keep a close eye on the heat level and even your first pancakes will be good ones.  When you make the pancakes, have some butter or oil melted and ready to brush your griddle. I use a silicone brush, one of my favorite tools.  Fill a scant 1/4 cup with batter and slowly pour it onto the hot griddle.  Cook until top side bubbles, then use two metal spatulas to flip the pancake.  Lift with one spatula and keep it from sliding as you turn it.  The second side will brown very quickly.  In no time, you will be enjoying a wonderful, hardy breakfast.  I serve the pancakes with real maple syrup and a touch of sour cream.  I get my syrup from local maple producers, one of the perks of living in upstate New York.  It’s also where I base my gluten-free cooking school, Country Kitchen Center.  Check out my website for details.  If you would like to schedule a class, check out my website: www.countrykitchencenter.com  and/or email me at ckc@countrykitchencenter.com.  I’ll be glad to touch base with you and assist with your gluten-free questions.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups  all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
1/4 cup  sugar
2 teaspoons  baking powder
1 teaspoon  baking soda
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup  buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
2  large eggs
2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2  bananas, sliced
1/2 cup  pecans, small pieces
Additional butter or oil, melted, for cooking

In a medium mixing bowl, measure & mix the dry ingredients, from flour mix to xanthan gum. In a 4 cup liquid measure cup, whisk wet ingredients until smooth.  Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Gently incorporate the bananas and pecans using a large wooden spoon.  Make sure all the flour is well mixed.  Let stand at least 5 minutes.
Heat griddle, lightly brush with melted butter or oil. Dip greased 1/4 cup into batter, level and quickly pour onto griddle.  When bubbles appear on top side, about 2-3 minutes, use 2 spatulas to turn and cook until bottom is brown, about 1 minute.  Continue until pancakes are done.  Serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven.

Tips for making pancakes
Have your ingredients all prepped and the workspace ready.
Use cast iron pans and two spatulas for a better technique.
Pre-set your table.  Warm your food plates in a 200 degrees oven and keep cooked pancakes warm too.