Happy Merry

Are you home or headed there?  I hope you this year you have a great visit with your family and friends!  And a chance to enjoy all your favorite food traditions.  This is the only time of year that we get my mom's secret recipe ultra-luxe flaky buttery sandwich cookies.  They're kind of a big deal.

Decorating some gingerbread villagers is still on my wish list, but I can check off some Gretchen's eggnog and these fig-date swirls.  Nat helped me make them!  It totally made my day.  The nice thing about these is that you can freeze the rolls of dough and just slice off only as many cookies as you need.  (Recipe from Lottie and Doof.)

And after the holidays we can talk about why, next to the other roll of fig-date swirl cookie dough, there is a rabbit in my freezer.  Guesses?

Vindaloo Burgers

"The scale of complexity in recipes is in no way a litmus test of how good or bad a recipe is."  - Monica Bhide

This spice mix was a Christmas gift that I got last year.  I love it, and now that there is a Penzey's down the road from us, I'm all stocked up.  It would be nice if Penzey's sent several recipes along with their spice mixes, more than just the one on the package, but you don't really need a cookbook.  This spice mix is really easy to use.

Quick lamb burgers for dinner, plus some roasted vegetables, is the quickest way I know to make a flavorful dinner.  Forgive the lack of pictures.  We only had one burger left after dinner, and I decided not to bother trying to photograph a food that looks like a greasy hockey puck.  But they do taste good.  We've liked them with chopped onions mixed in, and left them out.  We've also liked beef vindaloo burgers, and a cucumber raita to go with them.   Basically, vindaloo seasoning is versatile and fun to experiment with.  How would you use it?

Vindaloo Burgers
Cooking technique from this recipe 

1.5 lbs ground lamb
2 Tablespoons of Penzey's Vindaloo seasoning
Salt to taste (at least 1/2 teaspoon)

1.  Work spices into ground meat and shape into six patties.

2.  Grill (if it's warm).  To cook on the stovetop, heat two frying pans, one two medium-high, and one to medium.  Add a bit of your preferred cooking oil to the pan.  Cook each patty 2 minutes on each side in the hotter pan, then 2 more minutes on the medium pan on one side.  Our lamb burgers ended up cooked about medium.  They shrunk a bit and released a lot of fat, so you might need to pour some of it off as you go.

By the way, Penzey's has no idea that I or my blog exist, I'm just a happy customer.  All opinions about their products are my own.  

Almond Flour Cupcakes with Cranberry Chutney

Let's be honest: one of the best reasons to have a food blog is so you can get up in the morning and convince yourself that you need to make cupcakes.

Emma Galloway has a beautiful rhubarb, lemon & almond cake on Food52 that I've been meaning to try, but of course it's not exactly rhubarb season right now.  I did have half a jar of cranberry chutney in the fridge though.   I am definitely planning to go back and try the original recipe once rhubarb is in season, but I think the cranberry substitution was delicious and seasonal.

While I'm admitting to hacking other people's well-tested recipes, I have to admit that I didn't have lemons, do I made a daring substitution of ground coriander, which was subtle and tasty.  Also, I only mixed up a half batch, so I could put the whole recipe together quickly in my 3-cup food processor.

These are as sweet as normal cake and have normal cake texture.  The flavor is maybe a bit eggier - if that doesn't sound good to you, add a dash of your favorite flavored extract.  The almond flour means they are definitely more filling than your average wheat cupcakes and have lots of protein.  This is good news - you are unlikely to eat more than two, even if you are very hungry!  Data comes from a very scientific test I ran on myself, where I didn't eat breakfast and then made cupcakes.

As written (and as I made it) the recipe is gluten-free.  This was my first time using brown rice flour - the amount is small and I can see how you might not want to go buy a bag of it just to make these, so if you don't have a problem with gluten you could sub in your normal flour.  Still, if you are at all curious about baking with alternative flours, but haven't tried it yet... start with this recipe.