Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gluten-Less Me

I would comfortably say that I am a carboholic. I love crusty bread, eggy challah, warm everything bagels with a schmere of cream cheese, pita chips, and baguettes galore. It's more than that though. Wanna know what my favorite fruit is? Bananas. Wanna know which fruit has the highest amount of carbs per serving (26 grams, mind you), bananas. I can't help it, carbohydrates make everything chewy and delicious and starchy and just delicious and so satisfying. So why, would you ask, am I trying out a gluten-free diet when I'm not medically required to be gluten-free? A diet where bready carbs are the enemy? Cause of blogs like this, where all her recipes look so delicious, and yet contain none of the gluten devil. And because my boyfriend was almost diagnosed with celiac disease, almost, but thankfully not quite.

(I can still eat that!)

So what does one eat in a land sans gluten? Well, a lot of quinoa, veggies, grilled meats and fish, froyo (just double check, some ice creams add hidden sources of gluten), and salads, lots of salads. Sounds icky, I know, but the benefits! I'm not tired around 3 p.m., you know, like an hour after you eat lunch and you feel like you could sleep forever (or kill someone for a coffee), I don't have that now. And there's no feeling like a glob of bread is just sitting in your stomach for hours after you eat.

(tuna tartare with avocado, following photos taken at Lavo in NYC)

Anddd you get to eat fancy foods, like tuna tartare, cause ya know, you can't eat pasta or bread or anything.

(chilean sea bass with crispy portabello strips, a garlic-butter-tomato sauce and baby asparagus in the background)

Sorry for the photo quality. These are from my phone. I didn't think anything could be worse than the little digital camera I have now, but apparently I was wrong.

(grilled salmon with zucchini "pasta")

Anyway, I haven't been gluten-free long enough to know if it'll actually change anything, but I'll give it as long as I can handle, until I break down and bake every muffin/cake/cookie in my recipe book and stuff my face. (I give myself a week before my willpower runs out).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mile-High White Chocolate Hummingbird Cake

Father's Day is a big holiday at my house. It's our holiday, so we're in charge of feeding and entertaining around 25 (or more) relatives. I always make a special dessert for my dad, anything that he requests. This year, it was my mistake to send him this while I was browsing through recipes at work, because naturally, that's what he wanted. This 8-layer, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink behemoth of a cake is easy to prep but a pain to assemble. It requires a lot of freezing and patience, and is totally a labor of love. 

Don't be thrown off by the strange combination of ingredients. I wouldn't have thought to put coconut, bananas, toasted pecans, pineapple and white chocolate together in the same cake, but they meld so nicely. It has a similar texture to that of a carrot cake, but without the healthy stuff (like carrots - I have a strict no vegetable policy when it comes to desserts).

Like I said, a pain to assemble. I ended up making only three layers (so once they were halved, 6) because I only had 3 circular cake pans. I don't know if I would have been able to add two more layers though, it might have tipped.

The only thing I omitted from the recipe was the almond extract, mainly because I didn't have any on-hand, but also because I find that once I add almond extract, everything tastes like marzipan. The cake didn't taste too strongly of any one ingredient, though some reviews said that if you use too-ripe bananas, then that flavor is overpowering. This cake is definitely for special occasions only, but after my father happily ate three slices and it got rave reviews, it was worth it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Soft Chocolate Blueberry Tart

I know I've been the laziest blogger alive, but this blog is undergoing a transition and I wasn't sure how to approach it. You see, since I'm no longer abroad, my material is, well, a bit less intriguing. After all there aren't quite as many culinary adventures to be had in New Jersey as there are in all of Europe. So my challenge was how to adapt Just Shmying Around to my life on this side of the sea. I'll still be posting things that I find (and subsequently eat) while I'm shmying, but I'll also be posting recipes! And hopefully, my picture quality will improve as soon as I can save enough for a dslr (any suggestions?). So to start, I give you a tart.

Yesterday at my internship (at, check it out!) my job was to research and piece together a bunch of blueberry recipes. I also happened to bring the largest and most delicious blueberries to work as a snack. By sheer coincidence I wore a blue jacket. And the sky was blue for the first time in days. And so, I think the world was telling me to blog about this soft chocolate and blueberry tart. I think it was meant to be.

This is a favorite in my house. The crumbly short bread crust (as picture above), with its light sweetness and mellow saltiness, pairs perfectly with semisweet chocolate and tart blueberries. Top it off with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, and it's gone in seconds (actually seconds, I've seen my family polish off the whole tart in a single sitting).

It's actually pretty simple too. Once the dough is par-baked, the chocolate filling is assembled and poured over the blueberries. After a half hour in the oven, and some time to let it chill (if you can wait) this tart is ready to serve. 

Soft Chocolate and Blueberry Tart

I love using blueberries because I find that they're the perfect contrasting tartness to the sweet chocolate,  but this would work great with cherries or raspberries as well.

Yield: one 9-inch tart

ingredients for sweet tart dough:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk

ingredients for filling:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 ounces high-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped (I use Ghiradelli chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 cup blueberries

I adapted my ingredients from this recipe, so find the rest of the directions here!