Gluten-Free Chocolate Cherry Scones

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Cherries are the ultimate in Summer fruit – sweet, tart, crisp, and easy to eat at the beach. Try as I may to ration out cherries for future days or future food projects, I almost always down them all in one sitting because they are Too good! Those who know me know I really struggle with self-control of my favorite foods. These days, those favorites are cherries, chocolate, and almonds. Lucky for you, I’ve married my favorite ingredients into some delicious gluten-free and egg-free scones!

After having to go gluten-free, I thought my scone-eating days were over… until now. These scones are a cross between a traditional scone and a very thick and chewy cookie and are made with almond, tapioca and oat flour. I make my own oat flour by blitzing quick oats in a blender, but you can also buy bags of oat flour (I like this one from Bob’s Red Mill).

The key to getting the consistency right with these scones lies in the butter. I add small cold chunks of butter to the dough and smash them with a fork into the flour. The goal is to have the chunks of butter mixed throughout the dough, but also have some small pockets of butter interspersed throughout the dough to keep it moist while baking. I also save a portion of the flour mixture to the end to add in to provide a little more texture. If your dough feels too wet to mold and form, add a little more almond flour. The scones are topped with a sweet vanilla icing drizzle, but feel free to taste a small amount of the dough before it goes into the oven (since this recipe is egg-free!) and add more sugar or flavoring if you’d like.

Chocolate Cherry Scones

Ingredients:

For the Scones–

  • 1 ¾ cup Almond Flour
  • ¼ cup Tapioca Flour
  • ½ cup Oat Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar
  • 1.5 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • scant ¾ tsp. Baking Powder
  • ¼ cup Full Fat Milk (I used Coconut Milk)
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Cold Butter, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ cup pitted Cherries, cut into quarters
  • 1 oz. Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped (about 4 squares of a good quality chocolate bar)
  • ½ Tbsp. Butter
  • Coconut Sugar for dusting

For the Icing–

  • ⅓ cup Powdered Sugar
  • Full Fat Milk to thin
  • ¼ tsp. Vanilla Extract

 

 

Instructions:

Mix the tapioca flour, ¼ cup of the oat flour, salt, coconut sugar, baking powder and 1 + 1/4 cup of almond flour in a large bowl. Slowly add in a few cold butter chunks at a time and smash the chunks with the back of a fork. You want there to still be some small flecks of butter in the dough, but have the butter be crushed enough so it’s somewhat mixed into the dough. Mix in the maple syrup, milk, and vanilla extract with a fork until the wet ingredients are mostly combined. Next add the remaining almond and oat flour, gently mixing it into the dough. Gently fold in the cherries and chocolate chunks.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees and cover a baking sheet with parchment. Gently pick up the dough and place on the parchment. Flatten the dough slightly and mold it into a circular shape so the dough has a thickness of ¾-1”. Slice the scones into 8 wedges and separate the scones on the baking sheet so they are no longer touching. Brush the top and sides of each scone with a little melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the scones in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes at 375 degrees. The tops of the scones should be slightly browned with a browned bottom. Remove the scones from the pan and allow them to cool.

Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a medium bowl and slowly drizzle in milk 1 teaspoon at a time and mix with a spoon. When the glaze is thin enough to drizzle with a spoon, drizzle the icing over the scones in whatever pattern you desire. Top with chopped chocolate!

Stewed Green Beans with Buttery Rice Pilaf

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An Armenian whose family moved to France to escape the Armenian genocide, my grandmother immigrated to the states when she was eighteen years old. While she was truly as American as could be in many ways, she impressed me constantly with the amazing Armenian food she would make for us when we visited her. She lived next door to her sister, and they would spend many days preparing all sorts of delicious foods that surprised and excited my eyes and taste buds. I wish I had developed my cooking bug earlier on in life and recorded all of her amazing recipes while she was with us, but here I am today trying to recreate food just the way she did.

Every February of my childhood, my parents and I made our yearly pilgrimage to Florida to see her and my grandfather. My father prided himself on being able to make the car drive from Long Island to Florida with little to no stopping in between, so it was an understatement to say we were all tired when we arrived at my grandparents’ little home. We would enter their home and be welcomed with aromas of garlic, tomatoes cooking, and lots of fresh herbs. One of my favorite dishes she always had waiting was a stewed green bean dish that was served over buttery rice pilaf. When she created this dish during our visit, she’d occupy me by snapping the tops off of green beans, which I think helped contribute to my love for food and cooking.

It’s a great idea to make this dish in the summer when green beans and tomatoes are in season. Green beans are great sources of Vitamin C and fiber, and a good option for a low carb vegetable. Look for green beans that are bright green and crisp when you snap them. Use whatever tomatoes you can find or grow locally, and feel free to use homemade crushed tomatoes for this dish. This dish is excellent hot, cold, or at room temperature and is even better the next day.

Tomato Stewed Green Beans over Rice Pilaf

Ingredients:

For the Green Beans:

  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1.5 lbs. Green Beans
  • 2 large Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Crushed Tomatoes
  • ½ cup Water or Chicken Broth
  • Juice from 2 Lemons
  • ¼ tsp. Cumin
  • ½ tsp. Coriander
  • 1.5 tsp. Salt (or more to taste)
  • Handful of Parsley, chopped

For the Pilaf:

  • 1 cup White Jasmine Rice
  • ½ small Onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1.5 cups Water or Chicken Broth

Instructions

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pot over medium heat. Chop the red onion and add to the pot, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and soft. While the onion is cooking, snap or cut the ends off of the green beans and mince the garlic. Add the minced garlic to the pot and stir for just a minute, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.

Next add the green beans and allow to cook in the pot for 1-2 minutes, until the green beans are coated with the olive oil mixture. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pot along with the crushed tomatoes, water or broth, lemon juice, cumin, coriander and salt. Mix everything together in the pot so that the cooking liquid covers or nearly covers the green beans. Reduce the heat on the stovetop to medium low, cover the pot, and allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes. After this time, remove the lid and toss the green beans with tongs to mix everything together. Continue to cook the green beans uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid the green beans are cooking in reduces and thickens. Taste the green beans and add additional salt to taste. Remove the pot from the heat and mix in the chopped parsley.

To make the pilaf, add the butter and chopped onion to a pot over medium heat. Once the onion is soft and translucent, add the rice and stir to coat it in the butter. Allow the rice to toast in the pot for about a minute, but continue mixing occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn. Add the liquid to the pot and once the liquid begins to bubble, reduce the heat and cover the post for about 12-15 minutes. Once all of the liquid is absorbed and rice is flurry, remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before removing the lid. Serve the green beans over the rice pilaf.

Pasta Fagioli Soup

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I remember my parents working very hard to take care of me and put food on the table as a child, but working in retail and road construction just about paid the bills. Once a week, we would go to our favorite Italian restaurant in town and sit at a booth in the corner, away from the parties with tables full of pasta, wine, and appetizers. Our order would always be the same – 3 cups of water, a $9 Sicilian pizza, and a single bowl of Pasta Fagioli soup. I know we were a waiter’s nightmare, but this tradition allowed us to feel fancy. My parents took pride in being able to go out to eat like everyone else, but leave with a $15 bill and some food for leftovers.

My favorite part of the evening was getting the piping hot bowl of Pasta Fagioli delivered to our table (with three spoons), and dipping a piece of crusty bread into the rich and delicious soup. We’d talk about our week and draw pictures on the paper place settings that by this time were already covered with soup and marinara splatter. I would savor each noodle and bean in the soup, forcing myself to eat slowly and memorize the flavors, while minding the very hot pepper in the center of the soup.

This soup is an ode to my humble beginnings and the parents who worked so hard to raise and take care of me. I use tiny rice pasta shells in this recipe to make it gluten-free, but my favorite pasta to use for this soup would be ditalini pasta. To make the soup vegan, just use a vegetable stock or broth and omit any cheese. If you can have dairy, definitely top this soup with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano; you can even throw in a bit of rind into the soup as it’s cooking.

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • ½ Large Onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2.5 cups Diced Tomatoes in Tomato Juice
  • 1.5 cups Cannellini Beans (I used dried but you can use canned)
  • 4 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 1 cup water or additional broth (if using dried beans)
  • 2 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • ½ tsp. Dried Basil
  • 2 sprigs fresh Thyme
  • ¼-½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 cup small shell Pasta (I used Rice Pasta)
  • 1 cup Dino Kale, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp. Red Chili Flakes
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)

Instructions:

*To do in advance – if using dried beans, soak the beans in filtered water overnight, and drain before using.

In a stainless pot or round dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion and let them cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften. Add the minced garlic and stir with a wooden spoon. Once the garlic is fragrant, add the diced tomatoes and sprigs of thyme and stir. Allow the diced tomatoes to come to a boil and then reduce the heat so the pot is cooking at a simmer. If you are using dried beans, add the beans now along with 2-3 cups of the broth and cover for about 30 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking for about 45 minutes, or until the beans are just shy of tender. If you are using canned beans, add the 2-3 cups of broth and cover the pot and allow to simmer for 30 minutes before adding the beans, then drain the beans and allow to cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and remove the pot from the heat.

Using an immersion blender or blender, roughly blend about ⅓ of the mixture and add back to the pot – doing this will help thicken the soup. Add the remaining cups of broth, and the herbs, lemon juice, and red chili flakes. Place the pot back on the burner over medium heat and allow the soup to come to a simmer and taste, adding salt as needed. Add the kale and allow it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the pasta to the pot and stir, then allow the pasta to cook for 5-6 minutes, or the directed amount on the packaging. I like my soups to be thicker and full of ingredients, but cooking the pasta in the broth tends to thicken the broth (especially rice pasta), so you may want or need to add another cup of water or broth. Stir everything together and add additional herbs or chili flakes, according to taste. Top with cheese if desired and serve with crusty bread.