coconut doggie treats

i've been making cat food for quite a while now. the kitties are fully adjusted to it now and seem to be doing really well on their local raw foods diet. moo's dandruff has gone away and both cats have amazing soft fur. our puppy on the other hand, is just now getting a taste of home-made foods. (the vet recommended waiting until one-year of age to introduce raw foods in order for her immune system to build up to it...) anyhow, lira, our puppy is getting spoiled this week with home-made dog biscuits. we've been putting a spoonful of coconut oil into her food each day to help with her coat. so i wanted to create an alternative little treat that would be full of good coconut oils - something grain free, and something cute and appetizing. so... coconut doggie cookies! taa daa! 

*like gluten-free baking for humans, the texture of grain-free dog treats are not going to be quite like the dog bones made from flour. but does the dog care? no. coconut and chickpea flours both pack in quite a bit of protein. perfect. 

coconut dog biscuits: 
1 1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 cup chickpea flour 
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 1/2 cup light coconut milk (or cow milk)
4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

mix all ingredients together. due to the nature of chickpea flour, it will be fairly dry and crumbly. - not the type of dough you can roll out and cut into cute shapes. so instead, press the dough into the palm of your hand to form small round cookies (whatever size your dog will prefer). bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes until the bottoms and edges are lightly brown. these cookies will be fully cooked but slightly soft still. if you want a crunchy dog biscuit that will store longer, let the oven cool to 200 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes or more with the door slightly ajar until the cookies are nice and crisp. store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, freeze extras if you like. 

savory asparagus & swiss cheese soufflé

this was my first ever home-made soufflé. terrifying? not really. the recipe takes a bit of time and i'm sure i would improve with practice, but i was overjoyed by the delicious results. here are a few tips i learned from assisting brandi's soufflé cooking class at the pantry at delancey. brilliant woman. 
1 - use room temp eggs for a perfect meringue and don't allow any fat or oil to mix in with your eggs while they whip
2 - butter your ramekins and sprinkle the walls of the ramekin with finely grated hard cheese like parmesan. this will give your soufflé some texture to grab onto as it climbs the walls of your dish. 
3 - 'sacrifice' about one third of your meringue to fold into the custard mixture. this way when you fold in the remaining meringue, the two consistencies will be a little bit closer together. 

savory asparagus & swiss cheese soufflé - great for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!!
makes 4 servings: 

parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup milk 
3 tablespoons butter 
1/4 cup flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
pinch of cayenne pepper 
1/4 pound swiss cheese, shredded 
4 eggs at room temperature, separated 

6 spears raw asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into thin 1/4 inch rounds

preheat oven to 400 degrees. position rack in lower third of oven. prepare either a large 6 cup soufflé dish or 4 individual dishes - butter each heavily and sprinkle a tablespoon or two of grated parmesan cheese in dish. tilt and toss the cheese around to coat the sides and bottom. 

melt butter in a small saucepan and add the flour. whisk constantly to dissolve lumps. cook for about 5 minutes and then take off of the heat. add milk and whisk to dissolve lumps once again. then return this mixture to the heat and cook and whisk for another 2-3 minutes. remove again from the heat, add spices and salt, then whisk in one egg yolk at a time. move this custard mixture to a large bowl, add the shredded cheese and let cool for about 10 minutes. 

(i hope you have an electric mixer... hand mixers are best as they will get to the bottom of your bowl unlike a kitchen aid) start beating your egg whites until stiff but not dry. to test for the perfect consistency, your should be able to use your whisk to stir the meringue - pull it strait up and out - turn the whisk over - if your meringue makes a firm little peak, perfect! if it flops over, keep beating. check frequently! the line between under and over beaten is very fine. 

fold 1/3 of the whites into the custard base along with the asparagus rounds. gently fold just a few times until combined. then fold in the remaining egg whites. fold slowly. do not over fold! there will be chunks of white left over, just poke at those to dissipate them. did i mention to not over fold it? it will start to get more soupy the more you mix. try to keep it pretty dry and fluffy! 

transfer batter to prepared dish(s) right to the brim. place dish(s) on a cookie sheet and place in the oven. immediately reduce the temp to 375 and bake for about 25-30 minutes. try not to open the door for the first 20 minutes! you will know it's done when the center is firm and not too giggly. serve immediately! 

macadamia & coconut shortbread

my mom always asks for a home-made meal for mothers day (and her birthday or christmas for that matter). of course, this is my favorite gift to give, but this year i stumbled upon a book that reminded me of my family in so many little ways... i had to buy her a gift! this of course, did not replace the home-made meal. the book, 'the doorbells of florence' is a collection of adorable photos of doorbells in florence italy paired with fictional short stories about the people behind the doorbells. not only is this a perfect light read for our family vacation to italy this summer (how fitting!) but the historical architecture and vintage fixtures are things both my parents love!

i appreciate so many things about my mother. for example, thank you mom for buying a new boat just in time for our sunny spring weather. what better place to host a picnic than in the middle of lake union floating on a boat? i tossed together a quinoa salad and baked some coconut & macadamia nut short bread cookies. delicious. 

*this recipe makes a fairly small batch, i doubled it so that there were extras to gift to my mom, sister and save some for myself. my cat also nibbled away at one. 

macadamia & coconut shortbread cookies:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
3 tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup raw macadamia nuts, crushed or finely chopped 
1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
sugar for sprinkling 

cream together softened butter with sugar. add egg and blend. add remaining ingredients and stir until it forms into a ball. place the dough in wax paper and chill in fridge for 30 minutes (no more, no less! if you leave it in longer, be sure to let it sit out at room temp for 20 minutes or so to soften so that it doesn't crumble apart when you roll it out). powder both sides with flour and roll to 1/4 inch thickness and cut to size or use cookie cutter. another option is to roll the dough into a log, chill it for 30 minutes and then cut thin slices from the log to form the cookies (a little more tricky to make them evenly thick) place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet. sprinkle with a little sugar if you like (i used a toasted coconut sugar gifted to me by my sister) bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until the edges are barely brown! check the under sides of the cookies before you pull them out - they should have just a little color and not too toasty. cool on a rack. store in a tin for up to a week. who knew a cigar box would fit my cookies so perfectly??