Friday, December 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie SOP

Thanksgiving is over, Christmas is over and you're probably still swimming under leftovers of all kinds! Now with New Years celebrations around the corner, no doubt everyone is going to be looking for some sort of lighter fare.

Photo credit - Healthy Green Kitchen

For my Cell and Molecular Biology class last spring, we were required to make presentations that used the science template for outlining procedures in the laboratory.  We could choose any subject we wished, the more creative the better, and it did not have to be science related either.  The procedure we chose had to be outlined in a specific format and presented in front of the class using a PowerPoint presentation while simultaneously demonstrating what we were talking about.  SOP is the abbreviation for "standard operating procedure" and each of us made our own.  Presenting SOPs is very common in the scientific community, so it was necessary for us to learn this skill.

I decided to do mine on smoothie making.  My professor really enjoys food and I figured that a smoothie would be a great option since I could easily demonstrate it and have samples :)

I have made my original Word document into a PDF.  To view the Smoothie SOP PDF where I outline everything you need to know about proper smoothie making click here.  The SOP also features my favorite peanut butter banana smoothie recipe.   Photos in the SOP are courtesy of Google searches.  You can even download the PDF to your computer and print it for later referencing, or for sharing with a friend who needs some help with creating smoothies!

Enjoy, be safe and healthy in this coming New Year! Happy smoothies!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gluten-free Yule Log / Buche de Noel - Step by Step with photos

When planning the menu for your own Christmas day meal or holiday party out, it can be really difficult!  Usually everyone wants to bring their own traditional or favorite dish to holiday gatherings, but with all of these Christmas parties going on, it's hard to bring what you truly would like, since sometimes there simply is not time to do it all.  At some point it's just easier to throw in the towel and make something really easy like nourishing protein bars, trail mix or deviled eggs.  

In my family, it is tradition to have what we call yule log, or more commonly known as a Buche de noel.  Yule log is a thin, rolled cake filled usually filled with fresh whipped cream, covered and decorated with buttercream and shredded coconut as "snow."  The process, however, can look a little daunting since it requires baking the cake, flipping it out onto a towel, rolling it up, rolling it back out, filling it up and assembling the log.  For a novice baker, this several step process can be a challenge, but if you make your game plan ahead of time and enlist the help of your favorite "sous" chef, the whole process can go smoothly and is actually a lot of fun.  It is honestly not as scary as it looks.  My mom and I can whip up a Yule log quite efficiently now :)  In fact, for my mom and dad's wedding, per my dad's request, my grandmother made yule logs from scratch!!  They've been married 32 years this month!

Yule log "pre" frosting.

Here's the recipe - I've posted the text below, and there are now pictures also with step-by-step instructions.  For yule log success, read through all ingredients and instructions before beginning.  You will want to lay out some tools in preparation for each step.  The recipe will easily serve 12 or more people, depending on how think you slice it, but it also freezes very well and will keep in the fridge for about a week.  So don't worry if you can't consume the whole thing, leftovers stay good!

Gluten free Yule Log / Buche de Noel
    makes one log, serves 12-14

    4  happy eggs, from grass-fed chickens
    3/4  cup Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour and 1 Tbsp coconut flour (both to total 3/4 cup)
    1 1/4  tsp baking powder
    1/2  tsp xanthan gum
    3/4  cup organic cane sugar
    1/2  tsp sea salt
    2  heaping Tbsp cocoa powder  (I used Ghirardelli Unsweetened)
    1  tsp vanilla
    2  cups raw milk cream (for inside)
    1  deep cookie sheet 10x15 (edges of the pan need to be at least an inch tall)
    real butter, from grass-fed cows (for greasing the pan) - see ingredients page for sources
    wax paper
    organic XXX sugar (for dusting)
    1  tea cloth (I used an old linen calendar)

Chocolate Frosting: feel free to use your favorite recipe, or use my estimates
    2   cups confection sugar
    1/4   cup cocoa powder
    1 1/2   sticks grass-fed butter, softened
    6   Tbsp raw whole milk

Prepping for the Yule Log:
    1.  Preheat to 400 degrees.
    2.  Place the cookie sheet in front of you.  Take a hunky of soft room temperature butter in your fingers and rub it onto the bottom and sides of the cookie sheet, enough to grease it very well, but not in excess.  The most important thing to keep in mind here is that this step is designed to prevent sticking, so better to err on the more greased side than not enough.  Make sure to cover all the surfaces of the sheet, especially all the corners and sides.  The cookie sheet should look shiny and feel slimy.
    3.  Measure out a piece of wax paper to fit the pan, and place it on the buttered cookie sheet.  Press the wax paper down onto the sheet so it fits into corners and stays put to the edges.  The wax paper will stick to the cookie sheet since it is covered in butter.  It will also hang off the sides a little.  It does not have to be perfect, but you will need a few inches on both sides of the pan to remove the paper from the cake after baking, so don't cut off the ends too short.
    4.  Butter the top of the wax paper that you just pressed into the buttered sheet.  This makes a total of two layers of butter, one on the sheet and one on the wax paper, like this: sheet - butter - paper - butter.

Making the cake:
    5.  Using an upright stand mixer, add 4 eggs and sea salt, and beat until thick, glossy and lemon colored. Don't worry if it has bubbles, but don't try to make them.
    6.  In another small bowl, mix sugar and cocoa powder together.  Gradually add this mixture to the eggs, beating well after each addition.  Then add the vanilla.
    7.  In another small bowl (you can use the same one that you mixed the sugar and cocoa powder in), mix together the xanthan gum, flour and baking powder.  Add this gradually to the egg-cocoa mixture and beat until smooth.  Thoroughly scrape the sides to make sure all the ingredients become incorporated.  The batter may be a little thin or slightly thick depending your ingredients.  Either is fine and will not affect the final product.
    8.  Pour the batter evenly into the greased/waxed papered pan; smooth batter with a spatula, do not neglect the corners.
    9.  Bake for 10-12 minutes (usually it will be on the quicker side, but some ovens run hotter than others).  Cake will feel spongy to the touch, but is cooked through.

10.  While the cake is baking, lay out a tea towel and sprinkle it generously with powdered sugar.
    11.  When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and loosen the edges of the cake.  Grasping the edges of the pan, flipping out the cake, wax paper and all, onto the sugar covered towel.  Do this fast- take it out, and tip it right over.
    12.  Gently peel off the wax paper from the cake and carefully roll up the cake in the towel.
    13.  Let the cake cool on the counter wrapped in the towel.  This is an important step to make the rolled shape. 
    14.  While the cake is cooling, whip up the cream.  I highly recommend putting the attachments and mixing bowl in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the cake, then all the utensils will be really cold for whipping the cream, and the cream will whip up more easily.  
    15.  When the cake has cooled, gently unroll it (do not force it flat) and frost the inside with the freshly whipped cream.  Then carefully roll it back up, but without the tea towel this time.
    16.  Gently lift the yule log and place it on the platter you plan to serve it.  Cut off one of the ends, or both if it gets a little burnt or if it is uneven.  If some cream squirts out of the log during cutting, just spoon it into the stump and frost over it.
    17.  Make the chocolate frosting with your stand mixer.  Frost the log. 
    18.  Using one of the rolled up ends, place it on top of the log to mimic a stump.  Frost the stump.  
    19.  Decorate however you like.  The traditional way is to sprinkle coconut on top of the chocolate frosting to look like snow.  Fork marks in the frosting make the log textured and resemble bark.  You can also put some red and green MMs on top near the stump to look like berries and leaves.  If you do not have MMs or cannot eat them (I cannot) then just use whatever you can.  Have fun with it!  I have even used strawberries before!
    20.  Put the yule log in the fridge to set overnight.  Before serving, remove from the fridge for about 30 minutes.  Slice into half inch or one inch slices.  Serve with homemade vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

Step by Step in pictures!

Grease cookie sheet with butter.
Smooth some wax paper down on top.
Butter the sheet again on top of wax paper.
To start making the cake, get out your stand mixer and add sea salt.
Add eggs.
Beat until glossy and yellow.
Add mixed cocoa powder and sugar gradually.
Add mixed flour, powder and xanthan gum into eggs, gradually.
Batters should look like this, happy and homogenous.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth out, be careful to get all the corners!
After the cake has baked, flip it over (do not wait for it to cool) onto a tea towel that has been covered in powdered sugar, and remove the wax paper gently.

Gently roll up the cake in the towel and let the cake cool.
Whip up some chocolate buttercream frosting.
When the cake has cooled (should not feel warm to touch), gently unroll the cake, do not force it flat, and smooth whipped cream out on the surface of the cake, cover it thick and out to all the edges.
Place the yule log on the desired serving platter, cut off at least one end to save for the stump.
Stuff any left over cream in here.
This side has been cut.
Frost the log and then place the stump on top.  Stuff an extra whipped cream into the stump, too.
Frost the stump and finish frosting the whole log.
Make fork "bark" marks and add coconut as "snow" and any other decorations desired.
In this version I used unsweetened coconut, chocolate and India Tree Christmas sprinkles.

This is my second time blogging about yule log. The old OLD post (probably my first post when starting this blog three years ago and was still new to photography and photo editing) can be found here, gluten-free yule log

Don't be afraid, this recipe is tried and true.  Unlike some other gluten free recipes floating around out there, it WILL work.  I've been making gluten free yule log for several years now.  The regular version my family has been making for over 50 years.  This is not a recipe just pulled from a hat.  You can rely on this one coming out well.  

My favorite part of the whole yule log - the cream inside!!

On another note, this basic Yule Log recipe is not mine.  It has been passed down in my family for years.  The back of my mom's recipe card has a cut out from some newspaper or magazine.  My grandmother started the tradition years ago, so we are not quite sure where the original recipe came from.  I do want to give credit to whoever the person that originally created this recipe.  All edits to be made gluten-free or more "real food focused" are mine, but the basic recipe template is not.  In other words, the adaptions to make it gluten free, etc, are entirely my own.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions (or problems?) you may have!

MERRY CHRISTMAS -- To Him be the glory!