Tag Archives: maine

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The last morning on Swan’s Island is usually a bit of a bummer. Sure, we’re still on-island for the day, but the thought of leaving on the following morning’s early ferry is looming. We’ve accepted that this will not be the year that we canoe. The only thing left on our “must” list is to hike around the lighthouse. It’s time to buy the things we’ve been eyeing at the vintage/antiques stores all week. To go say goodbye to the couple that owns the general store—after five summers, we’re on a first name basis. It’s time to take our recycling and garbage to the transfer station.*

*It’s not all fairy princess magic time, even though there is something sort of endearing about the whole process. I wish NYC waste disposal were so adorable.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But it’s also time for one last good breakfast. Since VJ bought herself a waffle iron a couple of years ago, waffles have been a vacation must for us. She usually takes the helm on that, veganizing a very good gluten-free mix and serving up breakfasts that I am more than happy to eat on the cove-facing patio, but she politely agreed to my request to “mess with the waffle iron” this year.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Initially, she may have regretted this. I had it in my head that my Cornmeal Pancake batter would work just as well in a waffle iron. Truly, I was so sure of this that I was congratulating myself weeks ahead of time for being such a culinary genius and had practically already written the accompanying blog post.

I should probably mention that I had never made a waffle from scratch before.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}You can see where this is going—the first round was akin to cornmeal styrofoam. Turns out, waffle batter generally needs to be thinner than pancake batter, lest the final product be tough, dry and heavy. We ate the waffles anyway (bad waffles are still waffles), but it took two days and neither of us was particularly jazzed about it. Needless to say, I was a little disheartened, and spent a couple of days writing and rewriting the recipe until I was ready to try again on the final morning.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As I began mixing together dry ingredients and measuring out aquafaba and oil, I started to worry that round two would be disastrous too, but I ladled the batter into the iron anyway. VJ and I had an unspoken agreement that we would eat the results, no matter how awful.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But we were pleasantly surprised. My adjustments—reducing the cornmeal and doubling the aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid/egg substitute)—had worked, producing lighter, softer waffles with crisp edges and a good corn flavor. We finished them in one sitting. No arduous styrofoam-esque breakfasts here!Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Long story short, in addition to my haul from the vintage stores, this vacation also resulted in my purchase of a waffle maker. I’ve been home for about six days now and have already gotten a good return on my investment: I’ve made this recipe four six more times. You know, just to be sure they’re worthwhile. And also because I like having a freezer full of waffles.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 8-10 4-inch waffles

If you do not want/need these waffles to be vegan, two large eggs may be substituted for the aquafaba.

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
~1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other milk of choice)
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning/cooking liquid)
6 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the waffle iron:
cooking spray

For serving (optional):
salted butter (traditional or vegan)
warmed maple syrup
seasonal fruit

Preheat oven to 200F. Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Heat waffle iron according to package directions.

Pour vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add just enough almond milk to reach the 1 cup mark. Stir and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together aquafaba, oil, almond milk mixture and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and whisk to combine.

Grease waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour 1/3-1/2 cup (depending on the size of your waffle iron) of the waffle batter into each well of the iron and close the top. Let cook until steam dissipates and the waffles are turning golden at the edges and divots, about 6 minutes.

Transfer cooked waffles to the prepared rack-over-pan and place in the oven to keep warm. Re-grease the waffle iron and cook remaining batter.

Serve waffles with butter, warmed maple syrup, and seasonal fruit, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Leftovers may be layered with parchment, placed in a freezer bag, and frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat in the toaster.Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cornmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Blueberry Popsicles

Blueberry PopsiclesHi there! Long time, no blog.

After last Wednesday’s post, I began writing a Friday Favorites round-up, but then I remembered I was on vacation and so I bailed and went to a watercolor class instead. Blogging is great and all, but I felt the need to Maine* while in Maine, you know?

*Yes, I used “Maine” as a verb.Blueberry PopsiclesThat doesn’t mean I didn’t cook though. Vacationing on a remote island means spending time in the kitchen is a necessity, and for me, a luxurious one. The menu for our trip is meticulously planned every year, but I always make room for playing around. It never amounts to anything anything particularly elaborate (except for pie), but I always add ingredients to the list specifically so I can mess around with them.Blueberry PopsiclesBlueberry PopsiclesThis time around, we already had blueberries (because Maine), maple syrup (because waffles), and vanilla (because I’m a baker) on the list, and I had packed a blender (because salsa), so adding a can of coconut milk, Dixie cups,* and popsicle sticks seemed like logical steps. Because Blueberry Popsicles.

*When at home, I use these popsicle molds.Blueberry PopsiclesThese are the perfect easy summer dessert! They require the bare minimum of effort and ingredients, but deliver big-time on icy texture and creamy blueberry flavor. Oh, and they’re vegan, so your gluten-free vegan co-traveler can enjoy them too.

The batch pictured was made on a Wednesday morning before we went to the beach. They were enjoyed at a dinner party that night, and then at every subsequent meal until we left on Saturday morning. VJ and I both agree that they are good on the first day, but that their blueberry flavor deepens drastically as time goes on.Blueberry PopsiclesThere are four steps to making Blueberry Popsicles:

-blend all ingredients until smooth.
-divide the mixture into cups/molds. It’ll be thick and may seem lumpy, but rest assured that this is normal. Chemistry is weird.
-wait 45-60 minutes before adding sticks.
-freeze until solid.
Blueberry PopsiclesBlueberry PopsiclesAll that’s left to do is unmold and enjoy them on a patio in Maine. Or in your New York City apartment while daydreaming about being on a patio in Maine.

Maine Maine Maine Maine Maine.

Um. Sorry. I’ll try to contain myself.Blueberry Popsicles

Blueberry Popsicles
makes about 8-10 pops

12 ounces (1 dry pint) fresh blueberries
1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blitz until smooth. Mixture may seem thick and lumpy—this is normal and will not negatively affect final texture.

Divide mixture among ice pop molds (I used 3-ounce Dixie Cups). Do not add sticks.

Freeze one hour. Insert sticks. Freeze at least 5 more hours before enjoying.

To release from ice pop molds, place mold in a glass of warm tap water for 30-45 seconds. Popsicles should release easily. If they don’t, place them back in the warm water for 15 seconds before making another attempt.

Store in the freezer.Blueberry PopsiclesBlueberry PopsiclesBlueberry Popsicles

Peachy Keen Granola

Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Hello from Swan’s Island, my favorite place in Maine, if not the whole world.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I am only doing things that I want to do this week, which have thus far included thrifting, reading an actual book, re-seasoning our cottage’s abused cast iron, going to another island to see whale bones, and eating waffles twice because my friend/co-traveler/fellow Swan’s Island enthusiast, VJ, thought to bring her waffle iron and has been kind enough to let me mess with it.

I have now made my first batch of scratch waffles, and while they were edible, they still need some work. VJ remains the undisputed Waffle Queen of our cottage.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I, however, am the Granola Queen. In an effort over the last few years to create a breakfast item that we could both enjoy, I’ve created three granola recipes in anticipation of our trips to Maine. They’re all vegan and gluten-free (aka VJ-friendly) and include Tropical Cashew Granola, Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola, and now, Peachy Keen Granola.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I will not apologize for the cutesy name, or this granola for that matter. It’s my first new variation in a year and a half, but I think you’ll agree it’s worth the wait.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Made with dried peaches, almond extract and pie spices in addition to the usual oats, nuts, maple syrup and olive oil, this is the stuff my summer breakfast dreams are made of.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}That goes double when eaten in my own personal paradise. Peachy keen, indeed.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Peachy Keen Granola
makes about six cups

2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups old fashioned oats
8 ounces (~2 cups) sliced almonds
4 ounces dried peaches (about 5 halves), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats and sliced almonds. Spread mixture to cover the sheet pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to prevent burning. Let granola cool completely on the pan. Stir in dried peaches.

Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Peachy Keen Granola {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Shortbread WedgesIt’s never fun to come home from vacation, but I think I did it right this time. Returning over the holiday weekend left me ample time to relax, grocery shop, meal prep, put up all the new things I bought in Swan’s Island and Portland, and watch all of The Good Place season 2. I’m calling it a success.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Getting back into the groove yesterday wasn’t too terrible, but a piece of my heart is definitely still in Maine. You know, where it’s not 95 degrees.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Two days before I packed up to go home, my sister and I walked a good stretch of the North Road at a snail’s pace, picking upwards of a quart of tiny wild blackberries in about two hours. It might sound dull, but I can assure you that Eliot and I were anything but bored.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

The vast majority of the berries we found were the blackberries we expected, but we also spotted a blueberry patch and two teeny raspberries. All the apple trees were starting to turn, too. Maybe one day I’ll vacation a little later so I can enjoy them.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

I’ve written before about how I consider baking (and cooking) to be a form of active meditation; I feel the same way about foraging for berries. It’s easy to get lost in the simple process of plucking them from bushes and interacting with nature in a very tactile way. Berry-picking is probably the only time in my life where I am able to peacefully, fearlessly coexist with bees and that I’m not mad about a few good scratches from thorns. If anything, they’re little badges of honor.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

I’ve made pies with my foraged berries the last three years I’ve been on Swan’s Island, but decided to keep it easy this year, opting instead for these Blackberry Shortbread Wedges.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

They’re a slight adaptation of my Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars (and their apple counterpart), this time baked in an 8-inch round pan. The resulting wedges (or bars or whatever you want to call them) are served up almost like pie, and have a thick, buttery shortbread crust that is difficult to stop eating. You could certainly serve these at room temperature, but my fellow vacationers and I preferred them straight from the fridge. There’s just something about the combination of cold, tangy blackberry filling and rich shortbread.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

You’ll notice in the photos that I didn’t line the pan with foil or parchment—that’s only because I didn’t have any at our house. Instead, I greased and floured the pan and then sliced and served them directly from the pan. You may follow my lead here, or line the pan with foil and lift them onto a cutting board before slicing. I’ve written instructions for both methods in the recipe.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

However you choose to go about making these, I urge you to do so in these last weeks of summer. We saw pumpkins for sale as we drove out of Maine on September 1st, and while I am all for pumpkin after September 20th, I’m going to enjoy these end-of-season berries while I can.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges
makes one 8-inch pan, 8-12 wedges

Filling:
3 cups fresh blackberries
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan, or line with aluminum foil, leaving overhang, and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make blackberry filling. In a medium mixing bowl, combine blackberries, lime juice, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch. Set aside while you make the shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for topping.

Pour remaining shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Pour blackberry filling over the top, leaving behind any excess liquid. Spread berries into an even layer.

For the topping, use your fingers to pinch together small portions of the reserved shortbread mixture. Scatter them over the top of the blackberry layer.

If your pan is on the shallow side, place it on a rimmed baking sheet to collect any light overflow. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Move bars to the top rack and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until barely golden. Tent with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 90 minutes, or until cold.

If pan was buttered and floured, slice and serve wedges directly from the pan. If it was lined with foil, use overhang to remove to a cutting board. Peel off foil before slicing and serving.

Leftover Blackberry Shortbread Wedges will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. They will soften over time.

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Guac O’Clock & Other Meals on Swan’s Island, Maine

I’ll be real with you—I’ve been doing island things instead of baking.Like wading into the fuh-reezing Atlantic Ocean with three of the most fabulous women I know.And picking blackberries with my sister.But, I mean, we still have to eat. We might as well do it in style.Meals here on Swan’s Island are meticulously planned. Four years in though, we sort of know what we’re doing.

We have a meeting before we leave NYC. There’s an organized menu. There’s an itemized grocery list. There’s one harried/hilarious trip through the Hannaford in Ellsworth, Maine. And then there’s cooking every last meal, snack, and dessert we eat on this beautiful island.If it sounds like work to vacation here, that’s because it is. Fortunately for me, it’s the sort of work I love most. I mean, what’s to complain about when there’s daily Salsa O’Clock?And don’t forget Guac O’Clock. It’s very important when you are on vacation.It’s impossible to be grouchy in the morning when VJ makes you gluten-free vegan waffles……and blueberry muffins. The bacon was my contribution.There were Migas, too……and the Blueberry Baked Oatmeal I told you about on Wednesday.And cantaloupe. (Can you tell I am in love with the white prep table?)Lunches have been less curated, but this chickpea-centric spin on my favorite Jacques Pepin soup recipe really hit the spot on Sunday afternoon.And don’t forget extra-toasty grilled cheeses.Dinner is an event though. We’ve had a Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Onions, and some extra caramelly maple-roasted carrots.There was vegan cornbread, too. (My recipe, but with non-dairy milk + vinegar, vegan butter, aquafaba for egg, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup more cornmeal.)And Eliot made my crowd-favorite Everyday Cassoulet and some garlicky kale.Last night was taco night. Hooray for using up leftovers!Dessert has been plentiful. I mean, I’m here.I made a batch of Toasted Oat Graham Crackers,so naturally, there were s’mores.There have also been also S’moreos.And just straight-up toasted marshmallows.Also, lots and lots and lots of coffee. Arnab finally learned how to use the French press we bought him for Christmas. #adultingSo, as you can see, we have not starved. We have some produce to finish and a few things we’ll divvy up on our way back to New York, but we have, by and large, used everything we brought.I’m planning to do some last day of vacation baking today (all those blackberries!), but I may also just sit on a rock and watercolor.The day is young.