Monday, March 28, 2011

The Peanut Flour Experiments: Part 1

Here at The Great American Bakery Hunt, we have a love for nut products-- so much so that I recently purchased two types of almond butter in one visit to Trader Joe's (and resisted the urge to buy a third variety in the same visit.)  And did I mention I also purchased almond meal during the same trip?  While it might seem excessive, I enjoy having a variety of ingredients on hand so I can spontaneously bake just about anything.  If inspiration strikes, the pantry must be ready!  So when I received a generous sample of Trader Joe's peanut flour to play around with, I was thrilled to have the chance to experiment.  There's something inherently exciting about receiving an ingredient in the mail, and this delivery was no exception-- it's even better than when the Netflix red envelope arrives.   Beyond my enthusiasm for nut products, peanut flour intrigues me because it's an ingredient option if you're cooking for people with gluten free diets or other food allergies.  Since some of my fellow bakery hunting friends have food allergies, I try to stay informed about choices for them.

I have never cooked with peanut flour before, so I took to the internet modern detective style in order to find a recipe.  I discovered that the ingredient is adored by the health blogging community, and I came across a Banana Peanut Flour muffin recipe that incorporated both the flour as well as a combination of greek yogurt, ripe bananas (think banana bread style), eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, whole wheat flour, milk, baking soda, and salt.  You may have noticed that butter is not included in the list.  Now, I'm used to baking with a lot of butter because that's usually how we roll here at The Great American Bakery Hunt.  However, this recipe had none since I found it on a health-focused blog, but I decided to give it a chance anyway. It seemed healthy without being healthy in the "so healthy it tastes like health food" type of way.  Plus, since I really dig Greek yogurt, this part of the recipe finalized the decision to do some sans-butter baking.  And as a bonus, I had some bananas around already since I always seem to buy a few more than I need and then "accidentally" end up "needing to" make banana bread.

The muffins were a good morning snack for work-- and as it turns out, a good afternoon snack as well, according to a random sampling of hungry coworkers who wandered by, gazed curiously at the bag of muffins, consumed some, and gave them the official hungry coworker stamp of approval.

Peanut flour banana muffins: 5 out of 5 hungry coworkers recommend these muffins

I would definitely make them again!  I'm also planning to continue researching peanut flour and different ways to use its peanut power. Trader Joe's suggests you can use it as a soup thickener, which immediately triggered a food memory of a peanut butter flavored ramen I had in a strip mall in Torrance.  Now I'm not a ramen expert, but I think you could recreate this particular ramen using peanut flour if you had the inclination-- I'm sure that Jonathan Gold will probably master this and write an essay about it before I have the chance to.  If you're curious, go to Torrance, eat some ramen, and try to hunt down the peanut influence in one of the local bowls!  Or, if you're looking for something healthier, maybe a peanut flour- based salad dressing could be in your future.

But most importantly, let's go back to our dessert discussion.  I particularly love the idea of developing a really good peanut flour shortbread and spotted a few other bloggers who have started experimenting with this.  If you can't find a shortbread recipe with peanut flour, I noticed that shortbread recipes with almond flour are in abundance.  Therefore, I assert that we should all get a little crazy and mix in some peanut flour for a change.  Live a little bakery hunters, and join the peanut flour revolution. (Perhaps try these peanut flour pancakes, which seem like a delicious idea!)

Thanks to the folks at the National Peanut Board for giving me the opportunity to experiment with Trader Joe's peanut flour-- I sincerely look forward to using more peanut flour by the boatload!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Great American Bakery Hunt is attending IFBC New Orleans!

I can hardly wait to feast on New Orleans food culture while embracing an adventure through topics in the blogosphere!  New Orleans, watch out-- I have a list of food destinations to conquer and it's not short.

International Food Bloggers Conference 2011 NOLA