Sugar for the Caveman….

Have been delinquent on this blog for a couple of months for the sole reason that we have been BUSY!!!! After a slow July and first half of August, we were HIT with a lot of varied business, most of which had to do with Paleo (eat like a caveman) and food sensitivities, mainly gluten intolerance and celiac….once you work out the kinks, cooking for clients who have some limitations is not as difficult as you might think.

Meals are easy…adjustments can be made  that fit the parameters and everyone is happy….until that sweet tooth starts whining…then keening and wailing…that is when most people give up and “cave” (HA! A really bad joke…cave-caveman, see???) turning to foods that flip the sugar and wheat switches into full overdrive….

A client admitted to us that their sugar cravings were their downfall and was there anything we could do…since I love a challenge I set to work on a gluten-free, grain-free, paleo-friendly banana muffin…it has been 2 months in production and today, being a leisurely day in their kitchen, and the fact that last weekend we did a talk on gluten free eating and I promised my class I would give them this recipe, I decided to write it down…

Here it is:

Paleo Banana Muffins

5 Ripe Bananas, Mashed

4 Pastured Eggs, Room Temperature

2 tsp of Vanilla Extract

1/8 Cup of Coconut Sugar/Crystals

2 T Grade B Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup of Unsweetened Coconut/Cow/Goat/Almond Milk

1/4 Cup of Softened Grassfed Ghee/Clarified Butter

1/4 Cup of Softened Organic Coconut Oil

Dash of Fresh Lemon Juice

 2 tsp of Baking Powder

3/4-1 Cup Coconut Flour

1 Cup Blanched Almond Flour

1 Heaping T of Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Salt

2 Egg Whites, whipped into soft peaks

Preheat your oven to 370

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large mixing bowl and using a hand mixer, blend for 2 minutes on medium/high—at this stage you should have what looks like frothy tan pancake batter.

Sift the next 6 ingredients together and then add half to your existing batter. Mix on medium until for about 60 seconds until well-incorporated. Using a spatula, clean the sides of your bowl and then add the other half of your dry ingredients, and mix together until your batter has gotten some body to it and is holding together.

With clean beaters, in a separate bowl, whip your 2 egg whites until they are soft peaks, almost to the point of a loose meringue. Take half of the whipped egg and using your spatula,  fold it into the existing batter, gently, to loosen and fluff. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold them in until they are mixed in.

Take a standard 12 cup muffin tin, spritz with coconut cooking spray (you can also use cupcake liners–I prefer Reynolds Jumbo foil cupcake liners) and fill each cup until your batter is evenly distributed in each cup….this recipe is great as it is EXACTLY the right amount to evenly fill a 12 cup pan, with none left over.

Bake at 370 for 25 minutes. Let cool and store under refrigeration (they can also be frozen for up to 2 months). These muffins are wonderful sliced in half, toasted in a toaster oven and served with a pat of grassfed pasture butter.

The Vex That is Ice Cream, Redux: Perspective…..

After a busy week, and going into a busier week, Dennis got sick on Friday…sick enough that he had me worried—anyone who knows our history knows that the love of my life does NOTHING small…fever, stomach, out of it, and I freaked. He finally got to sleep and kept water down and in the morning he was weak, but the fever was gone and he managed his coffee and light food for the day….and we made the decision that we would NOT be participating in the Ice Cream Takedown today….I had started to get a small fever & headache myself, but woke up this morning feeling great….and Dennis was himself.

So, no surprise when, at 10:15 I was beckoned from upstairs ( I was having my latte, lounging, and watching bad TV) and as soon as I saw him at the foot of the steps, he smiled and said, “What do you think???? Do you think we can pull it off????” I was like “HELL yes we can….” And we got to work…and the egg yolks were separated, the cardamom pods separated, custard was poured into stainless steel pans to quick cool, both freezers were going, an extra batch of spiced whipped cream to fold into the frozen confection was conjured, and we ran out the door at 1:10….picked up pistachios and cashews, honey, and a snack, then headed to Somerville to the Armory with our “Hail Mary Cardamom….”

We recognized the participants and were also greeted by the man himself, Matt Timms who was thrilled that we made it–I had emailed yesterday that it would probably not happen….we had 10 minutes to set up and prepare, and found ourselves next to a really cool group of 20 somethings all of whom we have seen at the two other takedowns…they made a wild concoction of Marshmallow/Graham Cracker, Chocolate, and Slumbrew Porter that was like S’Mores with a good dose of alcohol…as table #1 we hit the ground running and were dishing out our creation, HMC, with salted crushed nuts, wild honey, garam masala and a pomegranate/tamarind/rosewater drizzle….the dry ice in the cooler finished the freezing process for us—scared and fascinated by dry ice—-we were up against Miso Caramel, 2 types of Key Lime, Cookies & Cream, Curry, Bourbon-Peach (heavy on the bourbon—-we loved it) and a few others—even a couple of people working magic with liquid nitrogen….

And then I checked my business email—-I can’t help myself—I work 24/7 and then some—the song of the self employed….the email was from a longtime occasional client and all it said was, “Hi Dennis and Christine, I need to talk to you, we need you desperately….” I have known her long enough to know that she is not one to use a phrase like that lightly…she is classic Massachusetts, and absolutely lovely….so I excused myself and told Dennis I had an emergency email from “G”….I went outside with a paper plate and a sharpie marker and called her back…come to find out her youngest daughter, who has 4 kids, has been diagnosed with breast cancer and starts chemo on Tuesday…the whole family, 3 generations follows the principles of Weston Price, raw milk, grass fed meats, and many other restrictions, and they know from years past that we know how to cook WP friendly food….so we are cooking meals for her daughter this Tuesday…

I went back into the competition area and briefly filled Dennis in and it was time for judging…and as competitive and egotistical as I can be, winning did not matter…I realized that 14 years of learning how to do stuff like fuse cardamom, saffron, cream and spices to make a wild dessert and learning the Weston Price principles pays off when we can help someone through an unimaginable horror….

We came in 4th in the professional judges category and did not place at all with the crowd….I don’t care….honorable mention is fine with me when I have my health, my family and friends have theirs, and that when it comes down to it , the vast skill set I have acquired over the years allows me to really help….

I will take that over a prize any day….and did I forget to mention, I love what we do?????

Our Personal Chef & In-home Catering Website

Our Personal Chef & In-home Catering Website

Personal chef & In-home catering in the Greater Boston, MA area.   

The Vex That Is Ice Cream…

There will be an argument…in fact, there have been arguments, avoiding of topics, looks, eye rolls, and a few minor strops….it isn’t that hard….develop a sweet frozen treat to dazzle the masses and judges, and win another prize. It is, after all what we do..

How to top Algerian Lemonade? It worked out so well. Lemon peel, lemon curd, orange flower water, vanilla, strands of saffron, egg custard base w/ gorgeous, organic rose petals, Ras al Hanout, and more lemon….and this combo eclipsed our other entry which was a Chocolate, Chipotle, Porter …spicy and rich, but not the “fairy dust” that was the Algerian Lemonade….

We also had a homerun with our Meatball Takedown entry of Bulgogi Insanity—Cook’s Illustrated Out of the Box winner…just a perfect balance…and left us a bit cocky…not good.

And now we are spoiled…having won/placed in two competitions we are left with a bit of an inflated ego and a need to go one step further. Production this year is eased by our wins last year that garnered us TWO more Cuisinart Ice Cream makers….

So how do we top ourselves without going over board….we both agree that conventional and unconventional ingredients can be combined into an unexpected mix…however, our beer ice cream experiments convinced us that beer was for drinking and cooking, and I tasted Cucumber Ice Cream last week, which explains itself…so far we have tossed around the following:


Raspberry/Rose w/ Orange Peel

Jalapeno Peppers in some form

Creme Brulee (logistic nightmare and engineering feat, but would allow the use of a blow torch)

Kiwi Coconut Avocado

A trio of the above with cake layers in between a’la Petit Fours, in perfect squares….did I mention this is made at home and then has to be transported?

And finally,  a “fill in the blank” flavor that would be presented in individual home made nut brittle bowls that would be molded over inverted mini muffin pans….this until we envisioned the pouring of 2 quarts of boiling sugar over a metal muffin tin, onto the counter and on to us…

What we learned last year:

Different is good

1 great recipe is the way to go

Attention to ingredients is key

Always push ourselves one step further.

Realize that there will be yelling, arguing, some slamming of equipment, stomping and storming out of the kitchen, and ultimately, success.

So far the only thing we have agreed upon is cardamom…..